Wilmington/New York — To hear Century 21 Stores tell it, the New York retailer should have survived the pandemic because it had business interruption insurance. Instead, insurers refused to pay, and Century 21 is shutting down after almost 60 years in business.

More than 1,000 companies have found themselves in the same predicament and have sued, with cases playing out across the US and UK, insurers are arguing they don’t have to pay out on pandemic claims in part because the coronavirus didn’t damage property...

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