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Most large companies insure against business interruption. The savvier ones, particularly those with sprawling global supply chains, also have contingency business interruption riders to protect against events that impact the plants of their suppliers or customers. In March, when one of the largest earthquakes in history struck Japan, followed by a 60-foot tidal wave that crippled a nuclear generating plant, many probably thought they were covered. Not so fast. Because a nuclear facility was involved, companies whose Japanese suppliers had problems may have a tough time getting compensated. In most countries, including the U.S., insurers exclude nuclear events from coverage.

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