Test Case Lawsuits Expected To Be Filed By Restaurants That Have Been Refused Compensation For COVID-19-Related Business Disruption

A number of test case lawsuits are expected to be filed soon by restaurants that have been refused compensation for COVID-19-related business disruption by their insurers.

The news follows a declaration by the High Court in February that the owners of Sinnotts, the Leopardstown Inn and the Lemon & Duke of Dublin, and Sean’s Bar of Athlone are entitled to be compensated by FBD for COVID-19-related business disruption.

As reported by The Irish Independent, despite the outcome of the pubs case, many restaurants, cafés and hotels have not been successful in securing compensation from their insurers for disruptions to business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a number of businesses that have so-called business combined policies, which provide cover for the outbreak of a disease on a premises.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) has written to 12 insurers on behalf of over 400 businesses, but so far only two have committed to paying out on policies.

It is understood that a number of insurance companies have said that the FBD ruling is specific to that insurer’s public health policies.

Correspondence seen by The Irish Independent revealed that one insurer has been refusing to pay out on business combined policy claims on the basis that there was no outbreak on the premises in question and that business restrictions for said premises were not implemented specifically due to an outbreak there.

The RAI members are being represented by Dublin law firm Robinson Solicitors, which is expected to issue a number of test cases soon to acquire court decisions on disputed policy interpretations.

It is thought that many claims will ultimately be dealt with by arbitration.

The RAI has also written to the Central Bank, which regulates financial services providers including insurance companies, to inform it of the association’s intention to join it as a notice party, and the RAI also wants the Central Bank to pay the legal fees involved.

“Circling Its Wagons”

RAI CEO Adrian Cummins accused the insurance industry of “circling its wagons” following the FBD ruling, and said, “Their strategy is a war of attrition. The longer this goes on, the more businesses that will fail. The less pay out they will have to make.

“They will deny it, but to me it is very clear what they are trying to do here.”

Following the FBD ruling, Insurance Ireland said that there is no insurance market in the world that provides widespread insurance coverage for pandemics, and that Ireland is no exception. It described issues about business interruption claims as being “complex”.

Original article on hospitalityireland.com by Dave Simpson.

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