Many of our clients have just been advised by their insurance companies that they cannot claim for business disruption as a result of the Covid-19 shutdown.
It seems that unless someone who was in your employment (or, if you are just a one-person operation and you yourself have actually caught COVID 19 and cannot work for that reason) and the business has to be closed down accordingly as a result, you will not be able to claim on your business disruption insurance policy.
Effectively what the insurance industry is telling you is that you must keep your business open, you must ensure that your employees come into work and you must ensure that at least one of them gets the virus before you make a claim against the insurance policy.
Notwithstanding all those years and decades of insurance premiums paid, when you need to rely on insurance it will not pay out.
The insurance industry effectively wants you to play Russian Roulette with your livelihood, the livelihood of your employees and the health of your employees in order for you to claim.
This is the true essence of the insurance business in Ireland and in Europe in general. They are here to make money, they are not here to help. We have written previously about the difficulties dealing with the insurance companies and their massive PR machines which they use in order to try to convince us that the they are on our side and that everybody else is either a scammer or a fraud.
Profit at what cost?
Insurance Companies exist for one reason and that is to make money for their shareholders. They don’t exist to help society. They don’t exist in order to help people who are in difficulty. They exist purely and simply for profit. Many of our clients are, like ourselves, small businesses. We do what we do and we do it extremely well and we employ our expert team to help us do it. In the current crisis many small businesses are struggling. This is not an an issue however which may directly affect our own law firm business. We are fortunate in that some of our people can work from home and and ergo still get the job done for our clients. There are many small business owners however who have been all but wiped out by this current crisis and others who cannot sleep at night wondering when this will end and when normality will return. Retail, gyms, barbers, hairdressers, joke shops, vape shops…the list goes on… have all seen their businesses either effectively closed down because of lack of trade or now mandatorily closed down because of (quite proper and prudent) Government decisions in the interests of the health and safety of all our citizens. Most business owners have small business insurance and business disruption insurance is part of that. We ourselves on behalf of our clients and also on our own behalf, have been dealing with insurance companies in respect of claiming for business disruption due to factors completely outside the control in normal trading circumstances of our clients.
Let the lobbying game begin
I don’t know how the Irish insurance industry will try to spin their way out of this one – in the same way that they try to spin every other aspect of their business where they are asked to pay out money. Let there be no doubt however their PR machines in the Insurance Ireland lobby are furiously working away in order to turn this into a ‘good news story’ which you can expect shortly to go to press…watch this space! I would urge anyone who is reading this to lobby their TD’s to the greatest extent possible to ensure that the insurance companies don’t take another scalp from their clients and from the people of Ireland in general.
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Anthony Carmody is a qualified solicitor with over 20 years’ experience in leading Dublin law firms. Anthony has specialised in the area of defending personal injury claims representing Insurance companies and Local Authorities, as well as undertaking claimant cases.