London bar operator Inception Group has launched a lawsuit against Axa following a U-turn over its business interruption insurance claim, calling the move ‘morally and ethically reprehensible’.
Inception Group operates 11 bars and restaurants across London, including Mr Fogg’s, Bunga Bunga and Cahoots.
Following UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s advice against visiting bars and pubs due to Covid-19 in March 2020, Inception Group notified insurance firm Axa of its intention to claim for losses under the business interruption policy.
Inception Group said it received a written response from Axa in April 2020 that noted they felt coverage had been prompted under the bar operator’s business interruption insurance policy.
However, a year after receiving the letter, Inception Group said it had still not received any reimbursement from Axa for loss revenue as a result of the government’s forced closure of hospitality venues.
Furthermore, the London bar operator said Axa has now made a U-turn on its initial response, claiming that Inception Group’s policy is not covered at all.
Inception Group said: “This type of behaviour from a big institution and household name such as Axa is morally and ethically reprehensible.”
The on-trade group added it wanted to ‘focus their efforts on reopening venues, and providing customers with great experiences and some much needed hospitality following the long lockdowns’.
As the firm reopens some of its venues this week for outdoor service, the group said it will ‘have to endure more business interruption as they are left with no choice but to pursue legal action against Axa as a result of this huge injustice’.
An Axa UK spokesperson said: “While we understand the challenges many businesses have faced due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can only authorise claims where the policy wording provides cover.
“The FCA [Financial Conduct Authority] test case has provided clarity around what is and isn’t covered in relation to policy wordings, and it is clear that no cover is provided by the policy wording for this particular claim.
“It is completely untrue that Axa said that coverage had been triggered under Inception Group’s business interruption insurance policy. This is no U-turn.
“We are continuing to work with clients and their brokers to ensure all valid claims are paid as quickly as possible.”
In January this year, the UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of small firms following a legal battle over business interruption insurance claims, meaning hundreds of bars could soon receive payments to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Inception Group is calling on other businesses that have had a similar experience with Axa to get in touch by email: [email protected]