An agent is challenging the insurer Hiscox over its interpretation of whether to honour a Business Interruption Insurance policy.
A standard letter sent out by Hiscox to many agents suggesting that they will not be entitled to a pay out, appears to fly in the face of last month’s high-profile ruling by the Supreme Court.
The court backed the arguments of a test case late last year involving eight insurance firms - one of which was Hiscox: the court dismissed arguments from the insurers that Business Interruption policies did not cover Coronavirus.
However, one agent receiving the standard ‘brush off’ letter from Hiscox - Simon Shinerock, chairman of the Choices estate agency group - says he is now going to appeal the insurance firm’s decision through a claims handler.
“I will consider legal action if they do not change their stance” Shinerock has told Estate Agent Today. He says the claim for lost business caused by the enforced closure of agency offices during last spring’s Coronavirus lockdown came to some £100,000.
“This is a huge scandal. Hiscox are refusing to pay our business interruption loss claim despite the court judgement because we are not on a list of businesses which had to close during the first lockdown” Shinerock says.
“It really is scandalous. We didn’t know about this list and we were required to close along with all non essential shops. For heavens sake we had the police knocking on our windows telling us we had to close as well as Propertymark telling us as well - it couldn’t have been more clear” he continues.
“I find Hiscox’s response outrageous, I’m sure it’s not what the court intended and there must be thousands businesses who are in the same position as us.”
The standard letter is lengthy but includes the statement: “The Supreme Court found that Hiscox’s policies can provide cover for businesses that were subject to mandatory closure restrictions if those businesses suffered an interruption to their business due to an inability to use their premises as a result of the restrictions.
“For those businesses not subject to mandatory closure, the Court found that it is likely that it will be difficult to demonstrate an inability to use their premises.”
Official guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in March of 2020 included the statement: “In line with advice for certain businesses to close, agents should not open branches to the public during this period, or visit people’s homes to carry out market appraisals.”
You can see that official guidance from March 2020 here.