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For Looted Businesses, Insurance Isn't Always An Easy Solution

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some people believe the looting and vandalism that has transpired in recent days will not impact businesses because they have insurance.

The reality is that's not true. As CBS 2's Lauren Victory reported Wednesday, insurance is not the magic answer.

On Saturday night, some looters got behind the bar at Bar Cargo in River North and took the liquor down. They even helped themselves to the restaurant's boxes so they could carry more away.

"I also saw them take liquor here and kind of stack it up here," said Bar Cargo founder Anthony Stefani.

Stefani watched the looting live on his phone.

"Broke this window, - it's double glass," Stefani said.

Stefani and other businesses have since finished picking up the pieces. But the road to recovery is far from over.

"Take, you know, photos, the surveillance, the police report," said Janet Patrick, director of the Illinois Insurance Association Hotline.

The paperwork had to document every detail of the mess. Patrick worries about the calls to come from businesses that were burned or destroyed.

Owners may not receive all the insurance money they are hoping for because of policy limits.

"Situations where there's a lot of devastation like this, a lot of times people find they're underinsured and don't have enough coverage," Patrick said, "and so once the damage has been done, it's too late. You can't buy more coverage."

Patrick encouraged board-up to prevent further vandalism, but warned against making permanent repairs too soon.

"Until the adjuster has seen the damage, assessed the damage and given them the OK," she said.

But how long will that take?

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday had a message for insurers, since many looted businesses were just days away from reopening after months of COVID-19 shutdowns.

"Get your agents out in these neighborhoods and start cutting checks," Mayor Lightfoot said in her State of the City address Tuesday evening.

The insurance claims at Bar Cargo will need to encompass iPads, inventory, and the smashed windows and doors. Stefani considers that lucky.

"I know it's going to be a lot easier for us to recover than a lot of other small businesses," Stefani said.

Pretty much everyone will be out their deductibles. We're told on the low end, that's $2,500 per commercial policy.

Bar Cargo's parent company, the Stefani Group, said their insurer is still figuring out if board-up fees are covered. At $400 a window, that can add up quick.

The pizza place was supposed to reopen Wednesday night for patio dining, but will need to push back.

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