An agent challenges the insurer Hiscox to see if they have business interruption insurance.
A standard letter Hiscox sent out to many agents stating that they are not eligible for a payout appears to be flying in the face of the high-profile Supreme Court decision last month.
The court backed the arguments of a test case late last year that involved eight insurance companies – one of which was Hiscox: the court dismissed insurers’ arguments that business interruption guidelines did not cover coronavirus.
An agent who received the standard brush letter from Hiscox – Simon Shinerock, chairman of real estate agency Choices – says he will now appeal the insurance company’s decision through a claims handler.
“I will consider legal action if you don’t change your stance,” Shinerock told Estate Agent Today. He says the lost business claim caused by the forced closure of agency offices during the coronavirus lockdown last spring was around £ 100,000.
“This is a huge scandal. Hiscox is refusing to pay our business interruption loss claim, despite the court ruling, as we are not on a list of companies that had to close during the initial lockdown, ”says Shinerock.
“It’s really scandalous. We knew nothing about this list and had to close along with all non-essential businesses. For God’s sake the police knocked on our window and told us to close, and propertymark also told us – it couldn’t have been clearer, ”he continues.
“I find Hiscox’s reaction outrageous. I’m sure it’s not what the court intended and there must be thousands of companies in the same position as us.”
The standard letter is lengthy but includes the following statement: “The Supreme Court stated that Hiscox’s policies can protect companies that are subject to mandatory closure restrictions when those companies experience an interruption in operations due to the inability to use their premises.
“For companies that are not subject to mandatory closure, we found that it is likely to be difficult to demonstrate an inability to use their premises.”
Official guidance issued by the Department of Housing, Towns and Local Government in March 2020 included the statement: “Consistent with recommendations for closing certain businesses, agents should not open branches to the public or visit people’s homes to do so during this time carry out market assessments. “
You can see that official instructions from March 2020 here.