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'Don't make customers pay', says pub boss who won FBD payout

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Noel Anderson, Managing Director of Lemon & Duke in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Noel Anderson, Managing Director of Lemon & Duke in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Noel Anderson, Managing Director of Lemon & Duke in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The boss of one of the four pubs that went to court to get a Covid-19 loss-of-earnings payout from insurer FBD says he hopes the costs will not be passed on to customers via higher premiums.

Noel Anderson, managing director of Lemon & Duke, and three others last week won a Commercial Court test case taken against FBD when it refused to cover losses associated with the closure of businesses during the pandemic.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent this weekend, Mr Anderson said: "In 2019, FBD had a very good year where they made €100m in pre-tax profits and I certainly would not like to see this [payout] passed on to the customers because in business you have good years and bad years and that's just the way things go."

Asked what customers should do if the insurer attempted to raise premiums, he said: "Insurance is an open market, people can shop around."

The pub owners claimed that under their policies with FBD, they were entitled to have their consequential losses covered by what they claimed is an insurable risk.

They also claimed that by failing to pay out on the policies the insurer was in breach of contract.

Last Friday morning, Judge Denis McDonald ruled in favour of the publicans, finding they were entitled to be compensated by FBD for the disruption.

The outcome could have significant implications for more than 1,000 pubs and restaurants covered by FBD's business interruption policy.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said yesterday that he would examine the detail of the ruling and that there may well be a role for the Central Bank, as the financial regulator, in making sure businesses receive the payouts they are entitled to. Insurance reform is a priority for Mr Varadkar.

He published the first Action Plan for Insurance Reform in December to bring down the cost of insurance. It commits to a number of actions across Government.

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