Contingent Business Interruption Insurance covers you when a partner or supplier suffers an event that directly impacts your business revenue.
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In the modern world, it’s rare for a business to be completely self-sufficient. Most companies rely on one another to make, sell, and create their products. A car manufacturer in the United States might import metal scraps from China. A home security business may outsource their calls to an unaffiliated call center in India. A surfwear shop in Malibu could rely on local hotels and resorts to attract a steady stream of novice surfers. These businesses are dependent on one another, and when one faces trouble, so does the other.
When a key supporting business undergoes a loss or event that negatively impacts your company, how can you protect yourself and keep your business firing on all cylinders? Contingent Business Interruption (CBI) Insurance may be your best bet.
What is Contingent Business Interruption Insurance?
Contingent Business Interruption Insurance, also known as Contingent Business Income Insurance or Contingent Dependent Properties Insurance, provides financial assistance when a key partner, supplier, or supporting business suffers an event that directly impacts your ability to earn revenue. If one of your suppliers is unable to fulfill their obligations due to physical damage or loss, Contingent Business Interruption Insurance can cover your lost income and ongoing expenses.
Small businesses are especially vulnerable to economic damages from problems at partners or suppliers, as they tend to rely on fewer suppliers and partners and don’t usually have extra capital to burn. Contingent Business Interruption Insurance can protect you from having to absorb the financial fallout of any physical loss or damage to your suppliers or customers.
- You own an e-commerce company that sells stationery imported from Japan. Because of a recent fire in northeastern Japan, a key stationery supplier of yours has suffered intense damage to its warehouse and will be unable to ship you any product for at least a month. You depend heavily on this supplier, and without them, you will need to spend time and money to find a replacement supplier. Moreover, you will be unable to fulfill many of your current and future customer orders. CBI Insurance would cover the expenses you incur finding a replacement supplier as well as the lost revenue from the shortage in supply.
CBI Insurance is usually purchased as an add-on to business income insurance through your property insurance. It is important to note that CBI Insurance only covers business interruption that is a result of damage or loss to a third-party business, like a customer or supplier, and is commonly used to cover four key circumstances:
- Loss by supplier – you need parts and materials to create your product, and you can’t get them from your partners
- Loss by customer – the majority of your product is sold to a small number of customers who have incurred a loss that prevents them from buying
- Loss by business’s manufacturer – you sell products that are manufactured by a separate business and their means of production are down
- Loss by leader location – a separate business that attracts customers to your business, e.g. a nearby theme park or shopping mall, has been damaged or shut down
Who needs Contingent Business Interruption Insurance?
Any business can benefit from CBI Insurance, but those who rely on a limited number of suppliers or customers stand to benefit the most. Companies with multiple supply sources can count on an unaffected business partner if another is forced to halt production, but businesses that rely on only one or two suppliers will be vulnerable. Even for businesses with multiple suppliers, it can take days to reroute orders to these other companies These dependent companies can lose income and business as they scramble to secure a new manufacturer.
- You own a clothing company that makes sweaters for people with sensitive skin. In order to create these sweaters, you source a special yarn made from a material engineered to be gentle on all skin types. This unusual yarn is only manufactured by one company, whose sole factory is in Oklahoma. A tornado hits the factory, causing them to cease production, crippling your sweater production. Even though your company was nowhere near the tornado, production comes to a grinding halt. You lose $70,000 every day in potential income for the next month, and you still need to pay your employees and landlord.
Just as companies may be dependent on a few key suppliers, they may also be dependent on a select group of customers. Companies that sell to other companies may target their business towards and obtain the majority of their revenue from one or two buyers. Businesses that sell niche or customized products will be in peril if their usual partners are unable to buy their inventory.
- Your soap company manufactures embossed soaps for commercial businesses. Ninety percent of your orders come from a hotel chain in Florida. A hurricane hits the state, causing tourism to drop precipitously for months. Half of all the hotel’s buildings are destroyed. Due to the damage, the Florida hotel chain is not operational, and they don’t intend to buy any embossed soap. Your company is unable to sell its inventory or generate enough income to pay rent.
Some companies may also rely on leader locations to sustain their business. These companies do not always exchange goods or services with their contingent partner but depend on the customers they attract. Problems at a leader location can create problems for the dependent business. Examples of this include:
- A restaurant near the remote office park of a corporation
- A hotel near a tourist attraction
- A business that rents boats on a lake
- A parking garage near a major shopping mall
If your business is located in a major metropolitan area, you are less likely to depend on another business for your customer base. However, for companies in remote areas, the failure of their leader location can cause significant problems.
- You own a hotel near Minnesota’s biggest theme park, located 100 miles from the nearest major city. A catastrophic fire breaks out and destroys ten of the park’s key attractions. The theme park is forced to close for the year to rebuild. Because there is no other reason to visit the town, tourism to the area drops dramatically. Your customer base shrinks, and the fact that you have no customers means that your hotel cannot turn a profit.
What does Contingent Business Interruption Insurance cover?
CBI Insurance covers many of the same costs that regular business income insurance covers. Its primary benefit is that it replaces the income that you lost as a result of the damage to or loss of your supplier or customer’s property. In addition to subsidizing your lost income, CBI Insurance can also cover any ongoing or extra expenses that you incur while your business is interrupted, including employee salaries, rent, utilities, and any other expenses necessary to keep your business running or stymie additional losses.
Just like regular business interruption insurance, there must be physical damage or loss to the contingent property in order to receive a payout for the interruption. Not every type of damage or loss is covered, and acceptable damage types are usually listed by your insurance provider. You must be able to prove that damage to the contingent property is the direct cause of your business’s interruption.
While covered perils vary from insurer to insurer, your CBI Insurance will usually provide coverage for the same perils that your property insurance policy covers. Examples of common perils that Contingent Business Interruption Insurance will cover include:
- Fire or lightning
- Theft or vandalism
- Damage from vehicles or airplanes (excluding those owned by the business)
- Water damage, sprinkler leakage, or burst pipes (but water damage from flood is excluded)
- Windstorm or hail
- Smoke from accidental fire
- Riots or civil commotion
- Sinkhole collapse or building collapse
There are many unforeseen events that can halt your supplier’s production of essential goods, but not all are covered by Contingent Business Interruption Insurance. Because CBI Insurance is closely tied to property insurance, loss or damage to the contingent business’s property is key in triggering your policy. Damage to water supply services, power services, or communication services are generally not eligible for CBI Insurance. Both floods and earthquakes are commonly excluded from property insurance policies and may be excluded in CBI Insurance. That said, coverage can vary based on your individual insurance plan.
What are the limits of Contingent Business Interruption Insurance?
Following a triggering event, there is generally a waiting period, usually 48 to 72 hours, before CBI Insurance is activated. This is often called a “time deductible” and is the minimum period of time your business must demonstrate an interruption of your business operations.
CBI Insurance is also usually limited to a set period of time (e.g. 30 to 60 days) and often has a maximum reimbursement limit (e.g. $10 million). A typical provision is that your business will only receive reimbursement for the number of days it would reasonably take your supplier to repair or replace any relevant damage. This is often called a “period of restoration.” If your supplier fails to address the damage within the designated period of restoration, say 12 months, you will no longer receive payment even if your business remains impacted.
There are also a few common events that CBI Insurance generally excludes:
- Legal orders – your supplier is ordered to stop manufacturing due to a legal injunction
- Damage to bridge, tunnel, or waterway – your supplier depends on outside resources for transportation, but they are not located on the supplier’s premises
- Ingress or egress – your supplier is unable to access their means of production, but there is no property loss or damage
Contingent Business Interruption Insurance vs Business Income Insurance
Business income insurance, or business interruption insurance, protects you financially in the case of direct injury or loss to your own property or business. However, Contingent Business Interruption Insurance is often added to business income insurance to further mitigate risk. CBI Insurance expands your coverage to include both your property as well as the property of your customers, suppliers, and any “leader” locations. This means that if you rely on a dairy farm for your milk supply, and their facilities are destroyed in a fire, you will be covered for the income that you lose as a result.
Direct vs Indirect Contingent Business Interruption
A contingent business interruption can be either direct or indirect. In a direct business interruption, your immediate supplier or customer experiences property damage or loss. In indirect business interruption, the supplier or customer to your supplier or customer experiences the loss. Many insurance policies limit themselves to only cover direct contingent business interruptions as part of their policy.
- Your ice cream chain specializes in berry flavors and relies on farmers in northwest Pennsylvania for your strawberries. A fire destroys the factory in South Dakota that makes 90% of the mulch that the Pennsylvania strawberry farmers rely on. Without the mulch, their strawberry crops are greatly diminished. Though there was no problem with your property or that of your direct supplier (the berry farmers), your ice cream chain can’t make your signature strawberry ice cream due to an indirect(?) contingent business interruption. Strawberry ice cream makes up 85% of your business, and you enter bankruptcy due to the lost income.
Named vs Unnamed Suppliers
Depending on your policy, you may be required to name every contingent customer or supplier you intend to be insured for. Due to the nature of modern business, this may be challenging. Most companies rely on an interdependent chain of business partners, many of whom are several steps removed from the direct supplier. These unknown contributors can be difficult to track and officially name. Other policies cover all contingent partners whether they are named or not.
- Your company sells specialty hot tubs. Ninety percent of your inventory comes from a supplier in Wisconsin. Following a major summer sale, you place an order for more inventory, only to be told that there are issues with the manufacturer, and new tubs won’t be delivered for three months. The problem stems from a fire in the Chinese factory where the custom-made plastics for the hot tubs are created. Your CBI policy requires all suppliers to be named. In your CBI Insurance policy, you never listed the Chinese factory as a contingent supplier and therefore are not paid any lost income insurance money.
In a world where businesses must rely on one another, and supply chains grow ever larger, Contingent Business Interruption Insurance is the best way to protect your bottom line. CBI Insurance can protect small businesses from the financial fallout that can occur when accidents and mishaps lead to physical damage or loss to their partners.