Coronavirus: trade groups challenge insurers


A NUMBER of drinks and hospitality trade groups have joined forces to call for an “urgent meeting” with insurance companies to discuss support for pubs and breweries.

A letter to the Association of British Insurers and signed by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), UK Hospitality, British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) refers to a “collective failure of insurers to step up and meet their obligations” during the COVID-19 shutdown.

In the letter the groups call on insurance executives “to agree to meet with us to discuss and lead a constructive way forward at the earliest possible opportunity”.

It follows research which found that as few as 1% of hospitality businesses have received a positive response from their insurer regarding COVID-related business interruption claims.

“Brewers and pub operators have largely failed to get support from their insurers at this time of real crisis for our sector,” said BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin.

“It is imperative that the leading insurance businesses in this country engage with our sector to find a way forward.”

The news comes after another trade group, the Night Time Industries Association, announced that it is in the process of co-ordinating legal action against an insurance provider for refusing what it described as “legitimate insurance claims” from its members.

The full letter from the BBPA et al is below.

“As trade associations representing 50,000 pub businesses and 2000 brewers, our members are grappling with the commercial implications of the lockdown triggered in response to COVID-19.

“We have come together in a concerted effort to mitigate the most damaging aspects of the lockdown for our businesses and have presented a unified voice to government in calling for a comprehensive package of measures to sustain our sector, protect jobs and livelihoods and safeguard our great British pubs.

“Within this context of a national, collaborative effort across our entire supply chain there has been one notable omission – insurance companies. We had hoped insurers would work with us at this critical time. With one or two exceptions, the collective failure of insurers to step up and meet their obligations has been deeply disappointing.

“The vast majority of our pub sector businesses have taken a policy including business interruption, with a clear expectation that a material disruption to their business through events beyond their control would be covered.  Industry survey data has found that only 1% of hospitality businesses, 3% of BII members, and 4% of BBPA member companies have received a positive response from their insurer.  In normal circumstances this would be unacceptable, in this crisis it is frankly deplorable and threatens business survival for thousands of pub businesses.

“We are aware of legal actions pending but in advance of these cases proceeding we would urge the insurance companies’ senior executives to agree to meet with us to discuss and lead a constructive way forward at the earliest possible opportunity. With additional lockdown measures planned for our sector and further material disruption to our businesses likely, the compensation owed to our pub, brewery and broader hospitality businesses has become an even more urgent matter.

We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest opportunity.”