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1 June 2020
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has rejected criticisms that it has toughened its stance on COVID-19 business interruption claims as the outbreak has unfolded.
“Our understanding and explanation of the situation has remained consistent throughout as we have sought to answer frequently asked questions and expand our communications accordingly,” Director General Huw Evans says in an open letter.
ABI’s response to criticism from small business-owners follows a similar exchange with hospitality trade associations over business interruption cover.
Mr Evans says the industry “takes no pleasure in declining claims from hardworking SME owners whose custom we value”, but it can only protect businesses from risks covered by their policies.
Better solutions will be needed in future so cover can be more widespread in the case of pandemics, he says.
“For such insurance to be affordable to SMEs there would likely require significant levels of state support,” he says. “But we are committed to playing our part to find a better future position than we have at the moment.”
Exclusions for business interruption are also creating pressures for insurers elsewhere in Europe.
After losing a Paris court case, Axa has said it will meet business interruption claims from some restaurant owners in France where contracts contain ambiguity, Reuters reports.
The insurer also plans to appeal the Paris court ruling, which found it should pay a restaurant owner two months of revenue losses caused by the pandemic.