The City regulator which is bringing a test case over insurance firms refusing to honour Business Interruption policies wants policyholders including agents to submit details.
But they have only until Wednesday to produce the information.
On Friday the Financial Conduct Authority - which says it needs a broad cross section of companies from different areas of the economy to present their case - issued a statement saying examples of grievances should be presented by Wednesday May 20. That’s just the day after tomorrow.
The statement says: ”We are inviting policyholders and insurance intermediaries who are aware of unresolved disputes with insurers over the terms of BI policies to engage with us, if they want us to take their concerns into account as part of the test case. In particular, we invite you to put forward your arguments why you consider cover should be available, together with details of policies that you consider have not responded appropriately to a claim and brief relevant facts of the case.”
The FCA says it will consider all arguments it receives and will treat all such communications as confidential and covered by its own litigation privilege - meaning it would be entitled not to produce it to a third party or the court.
The authority has instructed Herbert Smith Freehills, a leading law firm with a highly regarded practice representing policyholders. It has also instructed an external team of leading counsel highly experienced in insurance issues.
Agents wanting to participate must email relevant material to the FCA before Wednesday at firstname.lastname@example.org
“It is important that we receive and evaluate policyholders’ arguments now, given that we intend to seek the court’s view on relevant policies as soon as possible” says the authority.
The FCA has now created a dedicated webpage where reports on the progress of the case will be posted.
It has also pledged that its own representatives and solicitors will be available for discussion with action groups and policyholders and their legal representatives at workshop style meetings.
Mishcon de Reya, a law firm that has previously been active across the property industry, is reported to be acting for a group of hospitality companies against a range of insurers who have failed to pay Coronavirus-related claims.
Mishcon is also handling a group action on behalf of a number of companies against one specific insurer, Hiscox, which is allegedly failing to honour business interruption cover policies. It is thought this latter group - known as the Hiscox Action Group and believed to include hundreds of claimants - may include agencies and other property companies.
The authority says in a statement:
“We intend to engage with policyholders at key stages of the court action, including:
- considering those arguments and factual circumstances communicated by policyholders and insurance intermediaries to us now;
- using the arguments, policies and fact patterns put forward by policyholders to inform the sample of policy wordings and fact patterns (a summary of the key facts of a case) to be used in the court proceedings;
- making public all the ‘pleadings’ in the test case where policyholders and action groups have appointed legal representatives to represent them, having discussions during the preparation of the FCA’s pleadings and submissions;
- publishing other material relevant to the test case” subject to some statutory limitations.