A hospitality campaign challenging insurers over their failure to pay out business interruption claims related to the Covid-19 pandemic has analysed hundreds of policies submitted by businesses denied pay-outs.
The crowdfunding campaign has been spearheaded by Rob Atkinson, lawyer for Black and White Hospitality, which operates the Marco Pierre White group of franchised restaurants and manages a portfolio of hotels across the UK.
Atkinson is working with a legal team to support businesses in fighting for claims to be paid, where they have a chance of success. After analysing policies the team has directed members to either a financial ombudsman or the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCAs) high court test cases, taking place this week.
The campaign was supported by Best Western Hotels, Vine Hotels and UKHospitality, with other organisations invited to join or make a donation to have their policies reviewed.
Atkinson said: "We have received hundreds of policies, which is indicative of how badly those in the hospitality sector have been let down by their insurers.
"Members' claims have now been ‘triaged' by reference to a traffic light system with red [claims] standing no realistic prospect of success through the court system, amber providing minimal prospect of success and green standing a reasonable prospect of success."
Those with green claims are being advised to await the outcome of the test cases brought by the Financial Conduct Authority, which commenced on Monday. While those with amber or red cases have been advised to refer their cases to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
Atkinson added: "The rationale for a referral to FOS is that it approaches claims differently to a court. Whereas the court is bound to apply its interpretation of the law, an Ombudsman's role is to reach a determination that he or she considers, on the facts of an individual case, is "fair and reasonable in all the circumstances".
"We have issued guidance to all of our members and will be also holding two webinars on 27 and 28 July to give more guidance on the next course of action, so we want to see as many businesses attend these sessions as possible. Anyone who contributes to the crowdfund campaign will be sent a link to the webinar – it's not too late to join.
"We will remain resolute in our campaign to make sure policyholders get what they deserve having taken out in good faith insurance they thought covered them for a crisis like the one we're in at the moment."
For further details on the webinars, visit the crowdfunding page at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/hospitality-business-interruption-action