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Monthly Archives: August 2020


N.J. Restaurants to Resume Indoor Dining

N.J. Restaurants to Resume Indoor DiningNew Jersey bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining sections with restrictions ahead of the Labor Day weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday morning.

Restaurants can allow customers indoors beginning Friday, Murphy said. The move comes about two months after Murphy pumped the brakes on allowing indoor dining after he announced it would be permitted ahead of the July Fourth weekend.

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Center City Building Eyed for Sports Betting

Center City Building Eyed for Sports BettingSix local businessmen are zeroing in on 24,000 square feet in Center City for what they are dubbing as Philadelphia’s largest restaurant and the sports betting parlor of the future.

Bullpen Capital founder and CEO Paul Martino, FanDuel’s first U.S. investor, is leading the group seeking to raise $8 million to build Bankroll, a technology-themed food and sports betting business.

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Lord & Taylor Closing After 194 Years

Lord & Taylor Closing After 194 YearsLord & Taylor, the first department store established in the United States, is officially going out of business, ending a nearly 200-year run.

The bankrupt company announced Thursday that all of its 38 remaining stores and website have begun liquidation sales — a reversal from last week’s decision to keep 14 locations open.

“While we are still entertaining various opportunities, we believe it is prudent to simultaneously put the remainder of the stores into liquidation to maximize value of inventory for the estate while pursuing options for the company’s brands,” Ed Kremer, Lord & Taylor’s chief restructuring officer said in a statement.

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NJ Indoor Dining May Reopen Mid-September

NJ Indoor Dining Will Reopen Mid-SeptemberWith the state’s gyms allowed to reopen with restrictions next Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said he hopes to permit some indoor dining at bars and restaurants by the middle of next month as coronavirus numbers continue to improve.

Murphy was asked Wednesday during his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton whether rumors are true about a Sept. 14 or 15 target date for the state to allow limited indoor dining.

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Lidl Adding More Stores in New Jersey

Lidl Adding More Stores in New JerseyGerman discount grocer Lidl announced plans to open 10 more spots across New Jersey by the end of 2021 and double its store count in the Garden State.

The new stores are part of Lidl’s $500 million expansion plan. There are 40 other stores planned across the East Coast for next year.

Here’s where the new grocery stores will be in New Jersey in 2021. (Lidl did not provide exact addresses, only street names within towns)

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How COVID-19 Can Impact Your Insurance Policies

How COVID-19 Can Impact Your Insurance PoliciesLet’s look at how COVID-19 can impact your insurance policies. The new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to be a top-of-mind concern for organizations and individuals across the globe. As COVID-19 becomes increasingly widespread, it’s not only raising fears about the well-being of the general public, but it’s also disrupting business operations and creating insurance exposures.

In fact, COVID-19 has already led to business interruptions, supply chain issues and significant liability concerns—all of which can open policyholders up to claims. As such, it’s important for companies to understand how COVID-19 can impact your insurance policies, review their existing coverage and determine what precautions they need to take in order to control their losses.

This Coverage Insights examines potential insurance exposures associated with COVID-19 and how different forms of coverage could respond.

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5 Ways COVID-19 can impact your insurance policies

 

BUSINESS INTERRUPTIONS

As many operations close due to COVID-19 fears, there’s a growing question of whether or not business interruption insurance can help policyholders make up for lost revenue.

In the event of a loss, business interruption insurance provides coverage for income a business would have earned had it been operating normally. It can also help pay for expenses like employee wages, taxes, rent, loan payments and relocation expenses.

Typically, business interruption insurance is triggered by a direct physical loss or damage. Under this interpretation, contagious diseases like COVID-19 would not count as a covered loss. However, some argue that COVID-19 can contaminate physical objects like HVAC systems or assembly lines, which in turn would force businesses to cease operations. In these scenarios, business interruption insurance could provide some protection. Still, insurers may push back, making coverage unavailable.

As with any loss, policy wording is critically important and could make all the difference when it comes to responding to claims. Policyholders should review exclusions and endorsements alongside a qualified insurance broker to ensure they have the coverage they need.

SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

Business interruption insurance is a crucial component of risk management programs, but it does not extend to disruptions to a third party. That’s where contingent business interruption insurance (CBI) comes in.

Unlike traditional business interruption insurance that compensates the policyholder for a loss resulting from damage to its own property, CBI lets businesses transfer the risk of certain losses to the property of a third party. CBI is an optional extension of business interruption insurance that reimburses lost profits and extra expenses resulting from an interruption of business at the premises of a customer or supplier.

This type of coverage is increasingly important as COVID-19 continues to affect the global economy. Even if a business is not located in an area where COVID-19 has been detected, aspects of their supply chain might be, leading to potential disruptions. In fact, in China—where COVID-19 originated—many workers have been ordered to stay home, forcing some manufacturers to halt operations. Without access to the products or components they need, businesses that partner with these manufactures too have to stop distribution.

While CBI could provide coverage in this scenario, there are caveats. With CBI, the covered third-party property may be specifically named, or the coverage may simply blanket all customers and suppliers.

Insureds will have to review policy language to ensure their suppliers are included in the policy. Additionally, similar to traditional business interruption policies, some form of property damage will need to occur before coverage is triggered. Again, contamination may constitute as property damage depending on the policy language and insurer.

LIABILITY CONCERNS

COVID-19 raises a number of liability concerns, particularly if guests, customers or employees allege they became sick due to a business’s negligence. When it comes to these concerns, it’s important to take the following insurance considerations into account:

• General liability insurance—General liability insurance, sometimes referred to as commercial liability insurance, protects your business from financial loss should you be liable for property damage or personal and advertising injury caused by your services, business operations or employees. It can protect you from costs associated with bodily injuries, damage to third-party property, personal injuries, medical expenses, litigation and more. When it comes to COVID-19, general liability policies should provide coverage and allow you to defend claims. It should be noted that, in order a claim to be valid, the claimant would have to allege the virus was contracted due to the insured’s negligence and detail how, when and where they got sick—all of which could be difficult to pin down.

• Directors and officers (D&O) insurance—Shareholders and other stakeholders could sue a business should they fail to respond appropriately to COVID-19 concerns. Specifically, stakeholders may contend that management failed to develop adequate contingency plans or detail how COVID-19 could impact the company’s financial performance. It should be noted that most D&O policies exclude coverage for bodily injuries, but may offer some protection depending on the specific allegations. As such, it’s important for businesses to review the scope of their D&O policies to confirm they are covered in the event of an incident.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INSURANCE

In instances where an employee believes they contracted COVID-19 at work, a number of workers’ compensation considerations come into play. Notably, when it comes to workplace illnesses, most state statues only pay out benefits if the disease in question is occupational in nature. That is to say that communicable and contagious diseases are generally excluded from workers’ compensation policies.

However, coverage may be triggered if the illness arose due to or in the course of the worker’s employment. In general, these scenarios are examined on a case-by-case basis, but could include instances when:

• A health care worker contracts COVID-19 at the hospital at which they work.
• An airline employee contracts COVID-19 from a passenger.
• A hospitality worker contracts COVID-19, which is later linked to a large event at which they worked.

PREPARING FOR A CLAIM

While COVID-19 introduces a level of uncertainty when it comes to available insurance protection, there are a number of precautions organizations can take to prepare for a claim. To control potential losses, policyholders should:

• Audit existing insurance policies and their provisions to identify potential gaps in coverage.
• Review and modify existing contingency plans, estimating the potential impact of a long-term closure.
• Identify equipment, services, and third parties critical for continued operation.
• Have a process in place for responding to a loss, which could include:

o Detailing how the loss occurred and the impact the loss had on your operations
o Tracking all losses and expenses associated with the claim
o Highlighting how the claim could impact third parties, like suppliers and consumers

For additional understanding of how COVID-19 can impact your insurance, it’s important for businesses to seek the help of a qualified insurance professional. These professionals can help you review your insurance programs and recommend potential solutions to address your exposures. For more information, contact Hardenbergh Insurance Group today.

Brian Blaston Hardenbergh

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NJ to Reopen Gyms on September 1st

NJ to Reopen Gyms on September 1stGovernor Phil Murphy plans to announce New Jersey gyms may soon be allowed to reopen their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, senior administration officials told NJ Advance Media.

They will be required to operate at 25% of indoor capacity and follow other safety guidelines, the officials said. The new rules go into effect on Sept. 1.

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Chase Bank Continues Expansion Into South Jersey

Chase Bank Continues Expansion Into South JerseyChase Bank has opened its fifth South Jersey office here, marking the halfway point for a planned 10-branch expansion into the local market.

The new office stands at the former site of two restaurants, Chili’s and Blue2O, at Route 70 and Haddonfield Road.

Manhattan-based Chase, which operates nationwide, entered South Jersey’s consumer market in April 2019 with an office in downtown Camden. It has since added sites in Cinnaminson, Evesham and Mount Laurel.

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Retail Rent Collections Increase: But Still Off Almost 20%

Retail Rent Collections IncreaseRetail rent collections have continued to pick up, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated in parts of the country.

The hardest hit sectors, such as movie theaters, fitness centers and some restaurants, have shown the most drastic turnaround even as they lag behind in total collections, according to data from Datex Property Solutions on rent collected for the month as of August 15.

Nationally, retail rent collections stood at 73 percent, up 4 percent, compared with the same time last month, and down 19 percent compared with last year, Datex data shows.

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NJ Unemployment Lowest Since Start of Pandemic

NJ Unemployment Lowest Since Start of PandemicNew Jersey’s jobless rate hit its lowest point since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – a staggering 13.8 percent, still among the highest recorded since the state began reporting the numbers in 1976.

All told, 1.5 million New Jerseyans have been out of work since March 16 due to the outbreak, and the ensuing mass shuttering of businesses and steep drops in consumer spending. Since then, the state labor department paid out $14 billion in jobless benefits, more than $8 billion from the now-expired $600 federal unemployment supplement.

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Cost Segregation Can Increase Cash Flow for Commercial Properties

Cost Segregation Can Increase Cash Flow for Commercial Properties

Let’s look at how cost segregation can increase cash flow for commercial properties. Have you recently built, purchased, expanded or renovated a commercial property? If so, there may be significant untapped tax savings in the property or facilities. A cost segregation study can unlock those savings through greater tax deductions, accelerated depreciation and increased cash flow. Here’s how it works: Portions of a new or existing building are reclassified as “personal property” or “land improvement.” This cost classification can be depreciated over a shorter five, seven or 15 year period as opposed to the standard 39-year depreciable life of a commercial building.

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What if you built, renovated, expanded or purchased a building in prior years? Cost segregation is still an option. The IRS allows taxpayers to change prior accounting methods to take advantage of these previously understated depreciation deductions. This can be done without amending tax returns and can generate a relatively large tax deduction in the year of change.

TAX REFORM MAKES COST SEGREGATION MORE VALUABLE THAN EVER

The tax benefits of cost segregation are even greater thanks to tax reform’s enhancement of bonus depreciation.
In general, bonus depreciation is applicable to depreciable business assets with a recovery period of 20 years
or less. Tax reform doubled bonus depreciation from 50 to 100 percent for qualifying property with acquisition
and in-service dates between September 27, 2017 and December 31, 2022. This means that 100 percent of
qualifying costs would be fully depreciated and recognized in year one and only the remaining building cost
would depreciate going forward over 39 years. After 2022, the bonus rate decreases by 20 percent annually,
so the time to act is now.

REAL RESULTS FOR REAL PROPERTIES

RKL performs over 80 studies every year for companies in a variety of industries, including rental real estate, office buildings, hotels/motels, golf courses, auto dealerships, manufacturing facilities, warehouses and more.

Here are two recent examples to demonstrate cost segregation can increase cash flow.

• Construction of a new hotel facility in 2018: Of the total project cost of $13.5 million, RKL identified $5 million as personal property and land improvements. This cost segregation combined with enhanced 100 percent bonus depreciation a present value of the tax savings of $958,000 (using a 37 percent federal tax rate and six percent discount rate), with projected additional depreciation deductions of $4 million for a tax savings of $1.5 million.

• Turn-key construction of a new medical office in 2017: Of the total project cost of $2.4 million, RKL identified $1 million as personal property and land improvements. This cost segregation combined with enhanced 50 percent bonus depreciation produced a present tax savings of $200,400 (using a 42.67 blended tax rate and six percent discount rate), with projected additional depreciation deductions of $695,000 over the next seven years. This will produce tax savings of $296,500 over that seven-year period with $233,200 in the first year alone.

• 2018 look-back study for a previously purchased office/distribution warehouse facility: RKL identified $326,200 of the original $1.375 million building cost as personal property and land improvements. This resulted in a one-time additional depreciation deduction in the current year’s tax return of $170,700. To obtain an analysis of potential cost segregation tax savings, contact RKL today.

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Philadelphia to Reopen Indoor Dining

Philadelphia to Reopen Indoor DiningPhiladelphia will allow indoor dining at restaurants beginning Sept. 8, ending a nearly six-month ban that has taken a toll on eateries throughout the city.

Key elements of the dining restrictions include:

  • Restaurants cannot be filled to more than 25% capacity.
  • No more than four diners per table.
  • Tables must be arranged so that diners at separate tables are at least six feet apart or have an impermeable barrier between them.

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