A new High Court ruling could be a positive step forward for some tourism businesses who were denied business interruption insurance at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, said the county’s tourism leaders.
Cumbria Tourism said yesterday’s ruling, which said some insurers should have paid out for losses caused by the coronavirus lockdown, offered operators a ‘glimmer of hope’.
The test case was brought by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The ruling concluded that most – but not all – ‘disease clauses’ in the 21 types of policy wording from eight insurers do provide cover for businesses affected by COVID-19.
Earlier this summer, Cumbria Tourism worked alongside partners including the Federation of Small Businesses, to gather local case studies and evidence around business insurance.
The research revealed that 75 per cent of all tourism businesses were unable to make a claim, despite 93 per cent having insurance cover for infectious diseases.
Jim Walker, chairman of Cumbria Tourism, said: “Cumbria Tourism has lobbied very hard to highlight this issue at a national level and I think this latest High Court ruling will be cautiously welcomed by those tourism operators who paid their business interruption insurance in good faith and feel they lost out at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We hope the judgement will help to resolve the uncertainty being faced by policyholders, but at the same time, it is likely to just be the start of a lengthy process and it is still unclear how many more policies it will ultimately affect.
“The FCA and defendant insurers are now considering exactly what the High Court means and we will certainly be keeping a close eye on this as it progresses.”
Keswick B&B owner, Gary Lovatt, is the FSB’s national lead on the issue of business interruption insurance.
He said: “This is a win for small businesses, but possibly only a partial win.
“There is still the possibility for either side in this case to go to the Supreme Court to appeal, but given that the High Court has very speedily given its judgement in this complex matter, we hope that insurance companies will not prolong the pain by taking this to appeal.
“Although the potential payments may be, in general, relatively small amounts, they could be fundamental to some businesses’ survival.”