Government to assess Ipswich pub’s plight after insurers fail to pay out for Covid-19 claim
PUBLISHED: 05:30 11 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:13 11 November 2020
Government business ministers have agreed to assess the plight of a popular Ipswich pub after insurers refused to pay out on its business interruption insurance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The issue, raised by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt in the House of Commons on Tuesday morning is set to be looked at with business minister Nadhim Zahawi, who described it as “incredibly concerning”.
The Arcade Street Tavern contacted Mr Hunt after its insurance company New India refused to pay out a claim on the bar’s business interruption insurance.
According to owner Ross Keogh, the wording of the policy covered “a notifiable disease within 25miles of the business”.
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The Government at the start of the pandemic declared Covid-19 a notifiable disease, while the Financial Conduct Authority backed claimants in a test case in May.
But New India has claimed that the business interruption has actually come from the Government’s decision to lockdown, not the virus itself.
Mr Keogh said: “If it wasn’t for the disease we wouldn’t be in lockdown.
“We have a very valid claim.”
Mr Keogh said the bar implemented all the necessary measures between the first and second lockdowns to make the venue Covid-secure and introduce table service, but had been trading with up to 70% fewer customers than prior to the pandemic.
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He added: “If insurance companies did their job, this would save many more businesses than the government paying out.
“It’s not just my bar – there are lots of people affected by this.”
The pub has also been pursuing a case through the Financial Ombudsman Service, but has not yet come to any success.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt raised the issue during business questions on Tuesday morning, calling on the government to “look unfavourably on insurers who don’t honour their contracts” so it “isn’t the case of the little man being stitched up”.
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Mr Zahawi agreed to liaise with Mr Hunt on the case, and added: “It sounds incredibly concerning that any insurer would act in this way.
“Pubs are a valuable part of many local communities across the country. We are in continual dialogue with the insurance sector regarding its response to this unprecedented situation.”
Mr Hunt has already written to New India previously on the matter as well as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and urged other Ipswich pubs with similar problems to get in touch.
“They did the responsible thing by taking out business insurance against notifiable diseases,” he said. “The pressure on pubs and other businesses in Ipswich has never been greater.”
Mr Keogh said the pub would survive, but he would continue to fight in getting the payout his firm was entitled to.
A spokesman from New India has been approached for comment.
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