Case could set a precedent for similar cases against insurers in the UK

Insurer Axa has said it will pay the majority of business interruption claims made against it by restaurants in France after losing a Paris court case last week.

The decision could set a precedent for similar actions in the UK, where legal action groups have been set up to force insurers to pay out on business interruption claims triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Last week French restaurateur Stephane Manigold won his court case against Axa. He was seeking to recuperate operational losses incurred when he had to close his four restaurants as a lockdown was imposed.

Manigold told Reuters it was a ”collective victory”, and he cried when he heard the verdict. 

Axa had initially vowed to appeal the court decision, but today said it would meet the majority of the claims, as well as provide half a billion euros in assistance to small businesses there. 

The outcome of the case will be closely watched in the UK, where similar test cases and class action against Hiscox, Aviva and QBE are underway. 

Mark Killick of the Hiscox Action Group told Insurance Times: “It’s great that businesses in France are finally getting insurers to accept their obligations.

”Hopefully it won’t be too long before UK businesses get their insurers to do the same thing.”

Commenting on the French case, Axa group chief executive Thomas Buberl said: “These contracts represent less than 10% out of total contracts with restaurant owners and I am confident that we will find a solution.”

“We want to compensate a substantial part of these contracts, we want to do it quickly”.