Hotel and catering: new pressure on insurers

The leading employers’ union representing independent hotels, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs in France is putting pressure on insurers. Tuesday, October 20, the Union of Trades and Hospitality Industries (UMIH) unveiled a website allowing companies affected by the crisis to assess their chances of obtaining a support for their losses by their insurer and to be accompanied by lawyers to obtain success. This initiative could pave the way for new battles on the issue of business interruption insurance contracts, which has plagued relations between insurers and companies for months.

Faced with the health crisis, insurers are “To absent subscribers”, explained Roland Héguy, the confederal president of the UMIH. The organization hopes “Embark several thousand members” with its initiative also open to non-members. For months, this union of bosses representing many very small businesses relentless battle believing that many insurance contracts should allow its members affected by administrative closures to obtain compensation. Restaurant owners are all the more upset as many of them have seen their activity again threatened by the implementation of curfews in recent days. What is more, insurers are in the process of signing riders to their contracts about to be renewed, to clarify that they do not cover against the pandemic.

Misunderstandings in the field

Some companies have chosen to take the issue to court and have sometimes won their case. Enough to encourage insurers, such as AXA, to find common ground with their dissatisfied policyholders. Anxious to set the record straight, the insurance gendarme, the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR), estimated this summer that around 7% of insured having insurance with an operating loss guarantee could either clearly claim compensation or hope to obtain it, given the “uncertainties” of the contract.

In the hotels, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs sector, the policyholders affected by these contracts represent a “Significantly higher” to these 7%, however wants to believe Christophe Pech de Laclause, partner of the firm BFPL and lawyer of the UMIH. Have a pre-litigation and amicable approach with insurance companies, that is our main objective ”, assures Christophe Pech of Laclause.

Often pointed out in recent months, AXA France claims to have found an agreement with the ” almost all »2,000 clients whose contract gave rise to debate. Court decisions have also come to weaken its standard contract signed by some 15,000 restaurateurs. But the insurer puts forward other judgments that are favorable to it and intends to go to the end to prove that this key contract does not cover in the event of a pandemic. “We have made the choice to continue to offer our customers a guarantee of operating loss without damage which will concern an individual fact, specific to the establishment, for example in the event of closure following death or food poisoning in the restaurant “, insists however a spokesperson for AXA France.

In the medium term, insurers hope to get out of this debate from above by developing with the support of the State an insurance system capable of covering SMEs and very small businesses, affected by administrative closures, especially in the event of a health disaster. The work carried out in recent months by Bercy with representatives of companies and insurers has stumbled on the issue of financing. However, the government recently reiterated its determination to move forward on the subject “in the coming weeks”. According to our information, the insurers will be in Bercy this Wednesday, October 21.

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