A hospitality action group is preparing to launch a group claim against insurers Aviva and QBE over "ignored or thwarted" business interruption policies.
Law firm Mishcon de Reya has reviewed more than 500 business interruption insurance policies, submitted by Hospitality Insurance Group Action (HIGA) businesses between 29 April and 6 May.
Partner Sonia Campbell said the firm was "overwhelmed" by the expressions of interest in bringing actions against insurers from within the hospitality industry, "demonstrating how hard-hit this sector has been".
HIGA is inviting any business in the hospitality industry which has sought to claim under its business interruption policy with the two firms, and has been ignored or thwarted, to join HIGA by registering here before Friday 5 June 2020.
Campbell said: "We are contacting those HIGA applicants insured by Aviva and QBE and inviting them to confirm their continued interest in participating in a group claim.
"We also encourage any other businesses in this sector – with a specifically-worded business interruption policy underwritten by Aviva or QBE – to contact us by no later than Friday 5 June should they wish to consider participating in the proposed HIGA litigation. We believe this is the best way to ensure some financial recompense for these policyholders following their sudden and enforced closure."
Only those with the relevant policies will be eligible to participate in the intended HIGA-led group action. The relevant policy wording for Aviva Insurance Limited is its Material Damage & Business Interruption Policy. The relevant QBE policy wordings are: PHOT010419 (Hotel Insurance Policy), PLSC010419 (Leisure Combined), PBCC170619 (Business Combined Insurance Policy) and PNML010119 (Nightclub and Late Night Venue Policy).
The action is the latest in a series of hospitality groups challenging insurers. The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and Hiscox Action Group have combined forces to pressure insurer Hiscox to settle business interruption claims; while a hospitality crowdfunding campaign led by Black & White Hospitality in-house lawyer Rob Atkinson has surpassed its initial £20,000 target.
The Financial Conduct Authority has said it will seek a court declaration to resolve uncertainty around whether businesses can claim under business interruption insurance cover for coronavirus losses.