Small firms thrown lifeline in insurance test case ruling

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Small businesses have been thrown a lifeline after the High Court ruled some insurers should have paid out for losses caused by lockdown.

Judges ruled that the disease clauses in some business interruption policies should have meant they were covered.

Following lockdown, a host of businesses had to close their doors and many looked to insurers to cover them.

But many insurers disputed the claims, arguing policies were never meant to cover such unprecedented restrictions.

This test case was brought by the Financial Conduct Authority and had the potential to affect 370,000 mostly small businesses.

The insurers can appeal against the decision. Policyholders should hear from their insurer within seven days.

Christopher Woolard, interim chief executive of the FCA, said: “We are pleased that the court has substantially found in favour of the arguments we presented on the majority of the key issues.

“Today’s judgement is a significant step in resolving the uncertainty being faced by policyholders.

“Coronavirus is causing substantial loss and distress to businesses and many are under immense financial strain to stay afloat.”

He added that the ruling removed “a large number” of roadblocks to successful claims, as well as clarifying those that might not be successful.

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