NRF pushes government on pandemic insurance for retailers, praises small business loan legislation
The National Retail Federation (NRF) called on congress to pass legislation creating a federal program to help businesses obtain pandemic insurance on Tuesday, while also voicing its support for a $500 billion package to be voted on in the senate that would increase funding for loans for small businesses, as well as for other forms of economic aid during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Based on a similar program for terrorism insurance set up following 9/11, a government-backed pandemic insurance program would help retailers obtain the coverage they need to renew their leases, invest in real estate, order inventory, plan for capital improvements and hire or re-hire workers over the next few months, while also providing a mechanism for ensuring economic recovery in the face of any future pandemics.
“When businesses couldn’t obtain coverage for acts of terrorism after 9/11, Congress stepped in,” said David French, NRF’s senior vice president for government relations, in a release. “It’s time for Washington to do the same for pandemics. […] At this point it’s virtually impossible to obtain pandemic coverage for the future, but a federally insured pandemic risk insurance program would provide businesses of all sizes the certainty they need and help rebuild confidence.”
NRF has therefore joined 16 other business organizations in sending a letter to congress endorsing the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act, to be introduced by representative Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., a senior member of the House Finance Services Committee, soon.
Backed by committee chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the proposed legislation would not only mean that insurance companies would have to offer policies that cover pandemics, but would also create a federal backstop program reimbursing them when claims related to a pandemic or epidemic exceed $250 billion nationwide.
On Tuesday, NRF also announced its support for the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, a $500 billion package set to be voted on in the senate.
The act would provide an additional $300 billion for small business administration loans on top of the original $350 billion provided by the CARES Act. The legislation is expected to be voted on by the house on Thursday, with President Donald Trump having already indicated his support.
Although almost 200,000 small retailers have received loans of on average $155,000 each via the Paycheck Protection Program, funds have now been exhausted and new applications are not being accepted by the SBA.
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