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Shop Owner Struggles For Insurance Claims After Marathon Bombing

By Jim Smith, WBZ-TV
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Boston Marathon Bombings

 

BOSTON (CBS) – Eleven months ago Robin Helfand’s business world turned upside down.

She runs Robin’s Candy on Newbury Street, one street away from where the bombs went off last year on Marathon Monday

Helfand’s building escaped physical damage but like dozens of businesses, her bottom line was devastated by the bombing and the weeks of turmoil afterward.

She estimates her losses approached $100,000.

“Intermittently we were out for the next month, because we found our staff couldn’t get to work,” she said.

Robin Helfand in her Newbury Street shop, Robin's Candy.

Robin Helfand in her Newbury Street shop, Robin’s Candy.

Helfand explained that with MBTA stations closed, parking impossible and a command center for the investigation across the street, access to her store was severely limited.

In addition to lost business, Helfand said, she lost thousands of dollars in high-end perishable candy with a short shelf life. She filed an insurance claim and now nearly a year later, she says she’s been reimbursed just short of $15,000.

“I felt like I was made to feel like a criminal, like I had done something wrong,” she said. “They challenged every number that we submitted.”

The Boston Globe reported that insurers have rejected nearly half of the more than 130 claims of business interruption. Insurers defended their response saying they lived up to the terms of insurance contracts based on the premiums paid.

Business owners like Helfand are getting some help. Some downtown Boston law firms are offering services for free in the ongoing battle with insurance companies.

Rosanna Satler, a lawyer representing Helfand, said the situation is “very frustrating “small business owners like Helfand who work very hard to pay for insurance.

“They get the insurance their broker tells them they need,” Satler said. “They sleep well at night and then when they turn around and put in a claim for something like the Boston Marathon situation, they find out there’s no insurance  coverage.”

The state says insurers have paid out about $2 million in bombing claims. Underwriters say many denials are justified, so for many businesses the negotiations go on almost a year later.

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