Business advice: ‘Check your Covid insurance claims’

SMALL businesses are being urged to pursue and revisit insurance claims for loss of income caused by Covid-19 after a landmark ruling in the UK favoured companies which had been denied compensation.

Douglas Melville (picture provided by Orchid PR)  (30124127)
Douglas Melville (picture provided by Orchid PR) (30124127)

Following a recent Supreme Court judgment, Douglas Melville, the Channel Islands financial ombudsman, said people should contact their brokers and insurers and, if necessary, his office to assess claims if they felt that the virus had destroyed their livelihood. He urged Islanders to not be afraid to challenge rulings if a claim was rejected.

The judgment, which largely favoured the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, found that a number of insurers had unfairly declined business insurance claims that were made due to Covid-19.

Mr Melville said that the judgment would assist his team in its work but that the first step was for Jersey businesses to follow up any potential claims they might have.

‘How many total businesses are there out there? How many of them have policies? How many have put the claim against the policies?’ he said.

‘How many of them don’t even know they have this particular type of insurance as part of their overall insurance package? There’s a lot of unknowns here for all of us.

‘But until people take action, we can’t help. The first stage for us, of course, is to ensure that they talk to their brokers and their insurer and lay a claim if they have that insurance policy.

‘If they’re told no and it’s rejected, then suddenly it’s in mandate for us to be able to review it as a complaint.’

He added that the recent ruling in the UK had set precedents which his team could now use to analyse claims in detail.

‘What they’ll get from us is an impartial expert looking at their claim with a view to making a fair and reasonable decision. And it is not always in the favour of the consumer,’ he said.

‘If you look at statistics, historically, we are not an advocate for either party. We’re an impartial arbiter of what would be right in the circumstances.

‘What’s happening in the UK is wonderfully helpful for us because they are looking at the complexity and factoring all the different policies that different insurers have in relation to Covid’s effect on local businesses.’

Mr Melville’s views were echoed by Nick Steel, head of industry development at Jersey Business.

He said: ‘With all that we’ve just gone through over the last couple of months and, of course, the Supreme Court decision, it would be a good time to really encourage as many people in Jersey and businesses to go back and speak to their brokers and insurance people and see how they can put in claims and see where they get to now that things have changed.’

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