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ICA launches business interruption advertising campaign in newspapers

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) is this week running advertisements in major daily newspapers encouraging policyholders to contact their insurer or broker about business interruption claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The advertisements running today and Friday are appearing in the Herald Sun, The Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Advertiser, The West Australian, The Canberra Times, The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review.

The advertisements appear at the same time as insurers are pursuing legal test cases arguing that business interruption policies do not provide cover for the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.

A High Court appeal application hearing on the first test case is scheduled for Friday next week, while a second test case is due to start in the Federal Court in September.

“The ICA understands that while the business interruption test cases are being resolved through the courts, policyholders may have questions,” a spokeswoman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Today’s ads in major metropolitan daily newspapers and associated social media are the latest messages in our ongoing communications campaign to keep policyholders fully informed of the process.”

The advertisements ask “Do you have questions about business interruption cover for COVID-19 related losses?” and suggest people should contact their insurer or broker, lodge a claim at any time and gather and keep evidence.

“Your insurer or broker can help,” the advertisement reads, while a link is provided to information on the ICA website that includes details about the industry’s position and the status of the test case process.

The website information notes the insurance industry is of the view that pandemics were not contemplated for coverage under most business interruption policies and premiums were not collected to reflect the cost.

ICA says once the courts deliver final rulings, insurers are committed to applying the outcomes in an efficient, transparent and consistent way when assessing business interruption claims.

“The insurance industry understands the concerns of policy holders who may be waiting for a determination of their business interruption claim or resolution of a dispute, however these matters are not clear cut and there is a need to clarify the legal principles through the courts to resolve disputes,” the spokeswoman said.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has previously also encouraged small businesses to contact their insurer or broker about whether their policy may cover COVID-19 related losses, even as test case outcomes are yet to be finalised.

“Seeking advice early can help you to better understand your options,” it says on its website, while also advising that collecting loss evidence while it’s still readily available will help make the claims process easier.