NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Outside Joe’s Place in Green Hills, fans blow to cool off an empty beer garden.

At the Crow’s Nest next door, the lunch crowd is there but considerably slimmer.

Dalton Crow, the manager of both businesses, said his industry needs financial help.

“Whatever we can get to help us – especially in these times – sales are down I’m assuming for everyone in town. Whatever we can get will help,” said Crow.

Both bar/restaurants had what’s called “business interruption insurance” that they thought would cover their loss of income from the city’s mandated shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic.

But when they filed their claims, their insurance company, Erie Insurance Exchange, denied them.

“They paid their premiums for years – and when they need the insurance to pay – the insurance companies denied them,” said attorney Mark Chalos, who represents the businesses.

Now, the two businesses, along with four others in Middle Tennessee, are suing Erie, claiming a breach of contact for failing to pay for insurance claims on interruption of services.

News4 Investigates obtained one of Erie’s denial letters in which Erie wrote the business isn’t covered because there is no direct physical loss or damage to the business.

News4 also reported earlier that the bar Nashville Underground is also suing their insurance company for the same denial.

“These are small family owned businesses. This left the businesses no choice but to file suit,” Chalos said.

A representative for Erie sent a statement to News4 Investigates, writing in part, “Erie Insurance does not comment publicly on pending litigation and we are unable to provide information on specific claims or customers.”

That representative pointed to an April statement from the Insurance Information Institute, that “the threat of a virus is generally not considered physical damage to property.”

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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