PizzaExpress fights insurers over lockdown losses

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

PizzaExpress fights insurers to recoup lockdown losses

Related tags PizzaExpress Casual dining Coronavirus lockdown R200 Multi-site business interruption Insurance

PizzaExpress has been told it cannot recoup lockdown losses of around £200m by claiming on its insurance policy because it was not dealing with an emergency.

As reported by The Times​, the pizza chain is suing its insurers Axa and Liberty Mutual in the High Court for failing to pay out on its business interruption insurance.

PizzaExpress claims more than 540 cases of Coronavirus were discovered on its premises, resulting in the closure of outlets. Insurers have argued the pandemic as a whole was an emergency, but the individual cases of the virus were not.

The insurers further say PizzaExpress did not construct physical barriers to prevent customers from entering restaurants.

According to PizzaExpress, one section of its insurance policy should deliver a payout of £82.1m while another should pay out £178.1m. The company has said there will be some overlap in the claims and that a final sum would have to be finalised separately.

Businesses have been battling to obtain payouts under their business interruption insurance since the onset of the pandemic, but initially many leading insurers argued that their policies did not provide cover and refused to payout.

In January last year, however, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) won a landmark test case against insurers over pandemic claims​, which did lead to a rise in payouts. 

Many operators, though, still found themselves stuck in limbo following the case, with insurers accused of continuing to 'sit on their hands' over business interruption claims​.

In recent months, a number of hospitality firms have been forced to sue their insurers for not paying out of policies despite the FCA's intervention. They include Greggs, which sued Zurich over a £150m claim; and Stonegate Pub Company, which has sued MS Amlin, Liberty Mutual, and Zurich for £1bn.

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