LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - Hundreds of British businesses, shuttered by a government lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic, have appointed lawyers to take on insurer Hiscox saying its refusal to compensate them for losses was putting their future at risk.
The Hiscox Action Group said on Thursday it represented more than 200 policyholders with “dozens more joining daily”, that discussions with a litigation funder were advanced and that it had appointed Mishcon de Reya as legal adviser.
Richard Leedham, a partner at Mishcon de Reya, said he had been instructed to prevent hundreds of British companies from being driven out of business and had been “very surprised” by Hiscox’s reaction to date.
The dispute hinges on when a clause is triggered in Hiscox’s business interruption insurance after insured premises cannot be used because of restrictions imposed by a public authority and in the event of a notifiable disease or infection.
The action group said many businesses would take their claims to the Ombudsman, a service that handles such disputes, while others would either seek to use arbitration or litigation if that fails.
Hiscox said it was focused on helping provide customers with greater certainty, that a fair and fast resolution was in everybody’s interests and that it would work with the insurance industry, regulators and customers to seek resolutions.
“We understand these are incredibly difficult times for businesses and we are paying claims that are covered by the policies we issue fairly and quickly,” it said in a statement.
“We review every case individually, and if any customer has concerns about the application of their policy, we encourage them to get in touch with us directly.”
A second Hiscox Action Group has appointed law firm Edwin Coe and said it had signed up 30 potential claimants. Lawyers at Edwin Coe were not immediately available for comment.
Reporting by Kirstin Ridley and Carolyn Cohn; editing by Nick Macfie