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NTIA members name and shame ‘non-paying’ insurers

The UK's Night Time Industries Association says many shuttered businesses are facing issues with pandemic insurance claims

By IQ on 16 Apr 2020

London's Clapham Grand has been awarded an £80,000 emergency grant

London's Clapham Grand is among the businesses reporting problems with its insurer

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents UK ‘night-time’ businesses such as music venues and bars, has warned that its members will “remember the actions of certain insurers” during the Covid-19 pandemic, amid reports of non-payment of valid insurance claims.

Citing reports from member venues and organisations, the NTIA says many claims are being “disputed by insurers based on ambiguous policy wording to avoid sharing the financial burden” of the coronavirus crisis. Among the insurers highlighted by the association – which says it is “bring[ing] their names into the public domain” as a warning to other businesses – are New India, NFU Mutual and Eaton Gate.

“The current climate is no time for businesses to profit. These are unprecedented times, and a new normal is forming,” says Michael Kill, NTIA CEO. “At some point this crisis will end and those businesses that have shown a lack of support and integrity will be compromised by the industries that were forgotten.

“While the crisis may be short lived, the memories of how people conduct their business will resonate into the future.”

The NTIA’s intervention follows that of French metal event Hellfest, which claimed last week its insurer, Albingia, has denied its cancellation claim despite the festival having taken out €175,000 worth of pandemic cover.

“There are a considerable number of businesses who are being denied valid insurance claims”

Howard Spooner, owner of the 1,250-capacity Clapham Grand, describes his situation: “In addition to the Grand in Clapham, where the insurers (New India) have assigned a loss-adjuster to look at the claim, I have the George Hotel on the Isle of Wight, which is insured with NFU Mutual. It has the business interruption clause if we are forced to close by the government, [but] NFU have point-blank refused to entertain any claim whatsoever.

“They run their own brokerage, so I have spoken with their broker who placed the cover for us, and he is adamant that there is no claim and nothing to be done further.”

Stephen Finch, managing director of wine bar chain Vagabond, explains: “Vagabond is one of the very few businesses to have actually had pandemic business interruption [BI] insurance, and one of the most rigorous policies in that regard. Our policy essentially stated that in the event we experience business interruption stemming from an occurrence of a notifiable disease (as determined by PHE [Public Health England], which added Covid-19 a month ago) within a 25-mile radius of a premises of ours, we would be eligible for our BI indemnity sum.

“As you can imagine, this is a significant sum (£1.3 million). The policy wording is clear-cut. The facts are indisputable. And yet, yesterday, I heard from our brokers that the insurer, Eaton Gate, has decided to deny all claims.”

“They are adamant that there is no claim and nothing to be done further”

“While we appreciate there are some clear cases where insurance claims within the night-time business sector are not legitimate, there are a considerable number of businesses who are being denied valid insurance claims,” says Kill. “These are bing disputed by certain insurers in the hope that the current financial situation will deter them from challenging the claim.

“These actions have not gone without notice and will be challenged at a greater scale in the coming weeks.”

Speaking to IQ in early March, Miller Insurance’s Martin Goebbels predicted the coronavirus outbreak will “certainly open up the conversation around cover for communicable disease” for the foreseeable future, with more events opting for additional cover.

“I expect everyone will ask insurers for communicable disease cover next summer, and then after a year or two their appetite to pay the extra premium will probably go away again,” he explained.

Read more here:

The financials of a pandemic: Brokers talk coronavirus


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