AS the lockdown blues continue to strike discordant chords through the never-ending Groundhog Days of Covid, reasons to be cheerful have been pretty thin on the ground. Especially if your once-successful business, through no fault of its own, has lain dormant, with its shutters firmly down, since the onset of the global pandemic 11 months ago.

However, floods of tears for those government-enforced tiers were replaced with those of joy when, last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled against six of the world’s biggest insurance companies: Hiscox, Arch Insurance, Argenta, MS Amlin, RSA and my pig-headed insurers QBE, and threw out their pandemic cover and notifiable disease business interruption appeal and ordered them to promptly pay up.

Any notion I may have had of a Dry January quickly disappeared with a gleeful sprint to the wine cupboard.

The historic landmark test case was brought by the Financial Conduct Authority and policy action groups representing hundreds of thousands of small businesses, who will now benefit greatly from this decision and who are also no doubt dancing with unbridled joy.

A righteous ruling, that now restores my faith in the UK justice system, and one which will hopefully bring much-needed financial relief and peace of mind to over 370,000 desperate policyholders, including many publicans, hairdressers, restaurants, small hotels, guest houses and nightclubs, who since the beginning of this pandemic have faced financial ruin by being unable to trade. It’s a very costly one for those wriggling insurers, whose sardonic grins were quickly wiped from their faces, when Lord Briggs delivered his damming £1.8 billion + judgement.

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Personally, this has been a long, bruising battle fraught with worry and stress which, over the months, has taken its toll. Fuelled with rage, I’ve suffered many dark days of despair and sleepless nights, and any glimmers of hope I initially had of victory were crushed in London’s High Court last September. A day of infamy that saw the law lords inexplicably rule in favour of the insurers, agreeing that pandemic or notifiable disease business interruption cover didn’t mean that a policy holder was covered for business interruption in the event of a pandemic or a notifiable disease being reported.

My insurance policy with QBE was capped at a £200,000 pay-out. A policy for which I paid a whopping £57,000 per annum, and which in all the long years of trading I had never once registered a claim. It wasn’t worth the ink, let alone the crinkly toilet paper, it was written on.

Thankfully the Financial Conduct Authority, along with my broker NDML, backed by the Night Time Industry Association and various class action groups, saw the injustice of this ruling and appealed to the Supreme Court which decided to uphold our appeal, and overturn the earlier ridiculous decision.

Lord Briggs pointedly added that the insurers’ actions were “clearly contrary to the spirit and intent of the relevant provisions of the policies in issue” and that the cover they offered “was in reality illusionary”.

As much as the taste of this victory was sweet, and the hangover that followed one to savour, it should never be forgotten that this was a battle that should never have been fought. That thousands of businesses might have been saved from bankruptcy or insolvency if the multi-billion insurance industry had put their hands up and paid out.

Instead they embarked on a policy, the effect of which created “herd insolvency” caused by the delay which has forced many businesses under, and in turn reduced the overall exposure to the insurers.

And to all intent and purposes, despite the Supreme Court ruling, this case has paid off handsomely. Unlike a great many of their former clients, they are still very much in business and making billions of pounds. And, more worrying still, is that they stand to make even more when they push up their premiums.

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