Britain’s insurers are facing a high court ruling on whether they are liable for losses suffered by businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Specialist firms such as Hiscox PLC (LON:HSX) and RSA PLC (LON:RSA) have been heavily criticised for insisting cover only applies to companies with specific infectious diseases clauses and is not part of a general business interruption package.
Numerous businesses are in dispute with their insurer and the FCA has now asked the High Court to make a judgement one way or the other.
It is an unprecedented step for the regulator, said City watchers, but one designed to provide a swift settlement of an issue that otherwise might drag on for months.
An action group formed of Hiscox customers has already started legal action, for example.
According to the FCA: “The range of wordings and types of coverage are sufficiently broad in the BI market that it is difficult to determine at a general level the degree to which any one individual customer may be able to claim”.
Insurance trade body, the Association of British Insurers has suggested business interruption coronavirus claims might amount to as much as £900mln.
Separately, the regulator is also asking insurers to consider changes in premiums to reflect how life has changed due to the lockdowns.
Admiral, for example, has already given car insurance customers a £25 refund due to fewer accidents as most vehicles are off the road.
Public liability insurance for micro businesses/SME’s and boiler insurance cover are other areas the FCA is asking the industry to look at and consider premium refunds, payment suspensions or holidays and relaxing charges for missed payments.
Shares in Hiscox eased 1% to 698p, a three-year low.