Coronavirus: Insurance dispute ‘may mean bar closures’

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Bo Saunders

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Anna Christopherson says her company may have to close several bars if there is no insurance payout

A Scottish bar chain has warned it may have to close several of its outlets if insurers fail to cover losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Boda Bars said its claim for a payout under a business interruption policy had been denied.

It is among a slew of firms which say they have been unfairly knocked back for Covid-related claims.

Eight insurers will go to court in July to establish whether their policies should pay out to firms hit by Covid.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the test case would “provide clarity” to policy holders and that other insurers could be affected.

Many firms had thought they were covered for loss of earnings due a “notifiable disease”, only to be told their cover did not extend to a pandemic.

Anna Christopherson, co-owner of Boda Bars, which operates seven pubs and eateries across Edinburgh, said insurer MS Amlin had turned down its claim for a payout after it was forced to close its premises following lockdown.

MS Amlin is one of the insurance companies taking part in the test case.

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Pubs were among many sectors forced to shut down after lockdown

Ms Christopherson told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It’s really nice to see that something is happening without me having to go and hire lots of lawyers.

“The FCA is doing its job and putting lots of insurance companies on the spot.

“This means many of my colleagues, many of the other businesses who have just been denied, over a phone call, can now go back and say: ‘Can you please have another look’.”

“Without a payout, it would definitely mean that we would have to close a few of our bars”.

‘Unprecedented challenges’

MS Amlin said in a statement that it took its responsibility to support its policyholders “extremely seriously and understand the unprecedented challenges they and businesses up and down the country are facing as a result of Covid-19”.

It added: “We are pleased to be working closely with the FCA and wider industry to find a solution to this important issue, with the shared objective of gaining certainty, swiftly for everyone involved.

“We support the FCA’s move to collaborate with the industry and progress with the test case to lift the deadlock and uncertainty surrounding the payment of business interruption claims under these unique circumstances.”

In bringing the test case, the FCA said it felt most policies had not broken the rules.

However, it said it would seek clarity from the courts on whether the wording of some insurance policies meant they should provide cover during the pandemic.

It added that the test case would provide guidance for the interpretation of “many other” business interruption policies.

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