Successfully negotiating claims since 1867
Life is changing for us all in the Covid-19 crisis, and as well as the immediately felt changes in our personal routines, we see what’s happening in the commercial world. In the insurance sector in particular there have been significant developments since our last update to you.
As soon as the insurance implications became known we set up our own dedicated policy coverage unit. We have read, closely examined and analysed scores of different wordings and have identified those with potential for a claim. We have also become more and more aware of market reaction. Most of you will have followed the press and broadcasting reports on the approach taken by prominent insurers, at least one of whom is suffering serious reputational damage. Many of you have clients with policies with that insurer and we are in almost daily contact with lawyers looking to launch class actions. We’ll keep you fully informed on progress with that.
What is interesting is that we’ve seen the emergence of defences on quantum, rather than liability. By now you’ll probably have heard of the Orient Express Hotels case. This arose from hurricane Katrina, and the English High Court held that the trend clause in BI policies operated to adjust the standard turnover to take account of the fact that because of the devastation there would have been no business anyway in the area. A few insurers whose policies undoubtedly admit a claim are now using this to plead either no loss, or in one instance, an indemnity period limited to one weekend.
Orient Express Hotels was given leave to go to the Court of Appeal, but the defendant insurers settled on mutually acceptable terms before the appeal trial. Many lawyers think the first instance decision was bad, are encouraged by the uncertainty that led to the out-of-court settlement, and are looking for the right case to take all the way. That’s a development that will take some time, but we at Thompson and Bryan are following it daily.
We’ll update you on all developments.