(Reuters) – Britain’s largest pub group, Stonegate, which is suing three £ 1 billion ($ 1.2 billion) insurance companies for lock-in losses, battling the covid-19 pandemic “day by day, place by place”, heard a court in London on Monday.
Ben Lynch, a lawyer for Stonegate, said the company’s 760 insured pubs, bars and nightclubs in the center of the case had each faced separate challenges, opening and closing at different times according to regional rules – and seen the business shrink by up to 90% below forecasts.
If the case is successful, the Stonegate case could give new impetus to a second wave of claims against insurance companies that could cost the industry billions of pounds, further damage the reputation and push premiums even higher for companies and consumers, experts say.
Stonegate is suing Zurich Insurance, Liberty Mutual and MS Amlin, claiming that the pandemic, government-ordered closures and restrictions triggered business interruptions cover several times and that the interruption and disruption will continue until April 2023.
The insurance companies accept that Stonegate̵7;s business was covered by their insurance but claim that the insurance was limited to an interruption payment of £ 2.5 million, which has been paid, court documents show.
In total, insurance companies have paid £ 14.5 million, including £ 12 million for further increased labor costs, and say their liability is limited to £ 17.5 million. They mark the claim as “greatly exaggerated”, reports show.
The case is by far the largest since Britain’s Supreme Court ruled last year that many insurance companies had wrongly rejected claims of business interruptions from thousands of small businesses that had to close or restrict trade to curb the coronavirus.
Policyholders have so far received almost £ 1.35 billion in compensation. However, not all policy formulations were covered and, where they were, certain dispute levels for payments.
Insurers have been on notice since Corbin & King, the owner of London’s restaurant Wolseley, won a similar BI case against insurance company Axa in February.
Claims of several million pounds from the sandwich and pasty chain Greggs against Zurich and Strada and Coppa Club owner Various Eateries against Allianz will be heard next month.