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Publicans say insurers are refusing to pay out on 'business interruption' claims

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PUBLICANS claim insurers are refusing to pay out on claims for what is called business interruption after they were forced to close due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Some publicans say they would have used the pay-outs to fund wages for staff during the closure period.

The Licensed Vintners’ Association and the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) have slammed insurers who they claim are refusing to honour the ‘business interruption’ cover on their polices.

The representative bodies say they have received confirmation from Allianz and FBD, two of the largest providers of business interruption cover to pubs, that they will not be providing this cover. The Licensed Vintners’ Association represents Dublin publicans, and the Vintners’ Federation represents publicans in the rest of the country.

The representative bodies for the publicans called on the Government to immediately engage with the Irish insurance industry on this matter.

Chief executive of the LVA Donall O’Keeffe said: “This is a disgraceful decision by the two insurance providers.”

“At a time of national crisis, with the pub sector on its knees, these insurers have spurned us in our time of need and are refusing to play their part in this emergency situation.”

He said members had hoped to use the payments they would receive under their business interruption cover to continue to pay some or all of their staff.

“During this critical time that would not only help thousands of pub employees and their families, but it would also be in the national interest as it will reduce the demand for social welfare payments.”

VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben accused the insurers of “hiding between two arguments at present”.

“Firstly that the decision taken by the pubs to close was not mandated by law and, secondly,that this crisis represents a ‘force majeure’ event.”

And Brokers Ireland called on the Government to convene a meeting of insurance company chief executives to explore an industry-wide response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Director of general insurance at the organisation Cathie Shannon said many businesses have business interruption insurance.

But the wording on policies can vary.

An effort should be made to bring clarity to the situation for policyholders and to explore all possible means to address the unprecedented situation that many people, particularly businesses, now find themselves in, she said.

Both FBD and Allianz have been contacted for a comment, but have yet to respond.

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