Policing pandemic policies: are you encountering resistance to a business interruption insurance claim?

20 May 2020

Most businesses carry insurance for various things. Many include business interruption amongst those things. And many such policy holders consider a multi-month long State imposed closure constitutes a business interruption.

Sadly, for those business owners, the majority of insurers don’t agree and whilst many business policies very clearly don’t cover this type of event, there has been much press coverage in regards of claims being rejected on the basis that ‘this isn’t what we envisaged’ when we wrote the policy.

Fairly early on the Financial Conduct Authority (www.fca.org.uk/about, “we aim to make financial markets work well so that consumers get a fair deal”) sent a warning shot across the boughs of the insurance market, publicly telling them to deal with claims fairly and in a timely manner according to their published policies and industry standards.

It would appear the FCA have not been suitably impressed with the response to that warning shot, announcing:

“There is continuing and widespread concern about the lack of a positive response of some of those BI insurance policies, and the basis on which some insurers are making decisions in relation to claims.”

The FCA are therefore intending on seeking a High Court declaration regarding the contractual uncertainty around business interruption policy wording and the validity of claims under the COVID-19 lockdown.

In a CALL TO ACTION, the FCA is encouraging SME’s who are experiencing problems with a COVID-19 related business interruption claim to get in touch, with a view to influencing the case which the FCA put forward.

Details can be found here: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/business-interruption-insurance-during-coronavirus

If successful, the FCA believe any High Court ruling will be binding on the specific insurers whose policy wording is put forward as part of the case, and will provide persuasive guidance for similarly worded policies. Accordingly, SME’s assisting the FCA in this case could have little to lose and much to potentially gain.

For further details and advice, please visit the FCA site via the link above.