A group of high-profile pubs co-owned by a former Leinster rugby star have taken High Court action against insurer FBD over its refusal to pay out for business interruption claims during the Covid crisis.
Pressure is mounting on insurance companies from businesses in the hospitality sector as they look to recover losses suffered because of the coronavirus.
The Loyola Group - which includes well-known Dublin bars such as The Bath, The Landmark, The Leopardstown Inn, The Jar and Baker's Corner - is the latest to initiate proceedings against FBD.
The group is owned and run by former Leinster star Eoin O'Malley, along with his brother Brian and group director Stephen Cooney.
Hyper Trust Ltd, trading as the Leopardstown Inn, initiated proceedings.
However, it is understood these proceedings have been taken on behalf of the entire group against FBD over its blanket refusal not to pay out on claims relating to business interruption.
Meanwhile, Kelly's Aberken Ltd, which trades as Sinnotts Bar, a sports bar near St Stephen's Green, has also launched proceedings against FBD.
The pub is run by well-known Dublin publican Chris Kelly, who owns a number of pubs across the city including The Black Lion in Inchicore and The Gate Bar in Crumlin.
It comes as last week Lemon & Duke, which is co-owned by managing director Noel Anderson and Ireland rugby stars Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Rob and Dave Kearney, also took action against FBD.
The basis of the claim is that FBD allegedly did a U-turn on a written email which guaranteed the pub would be covered for business interruption caused by the coronavirus.
In an email to Mr Anderson in March, FBD said Lemon & Duke's policy would cover the coronavirus, but is now refusing to pay out for losses incurred because of Covid-19.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform said the action by insurers would "undermine the recovery of the Irish economy and the reputation of the insurance industry".
"All we have encountered is delaying tactics and a blanket rejection of business interruption claims by insurers, not just FBD," said Peter Boland, director of the alliance.
"It appears at this stage that insurers are happy to drag claims out over years of arbitration and court cases rather than pay up on valid claims.
"We call on the Central Bank, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, the CCPC and the Minister for Finance to get stuck in and force a resolution of this issue before those with valid claims are forced to close."
A number of businesses in the restaurant sector are also considering taking action against insurers after obtaining legal advice.
Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), said a third of the RAI's 2,500 members "have a strong case".
"We are guiding our members towards the courts. It will be up to each individual whether they proceed to the next stage," he said.
"Based on what we have worked on with our legal team, let's just say we are going to park the tanks in the front lawn of the insurance companies."
Some insurers are arguing that businesses are closed only because of social distancing restrictions and not due to the coronavirus.