A Paris France court ruled last week that AXA insurance company will pay a restaurant owner two months of revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. AXA argued that its policy did not cover business disruption caused by the health crisis. Upon losing this dispute, this court case is seen as a potential precedent for coronavirus-related disputes across the world. Stephane Manigold, the owner of four Paris restaurants who brought the case against the French insurer, has stated that since the court decision his team had received calls from Britain, South Africa, Spain and the United States asking for details of his contract and the court’s ruling.
A UK trade body, the Night Time Industries Association, which is also considering action against insurers, says the Paris case bodes well for their cause. “It absolutely strengthens the case for legitimate claims to be considered, and I am sure that there are some legal parallels being drawn from the case against AXA in France”. In Britain, the financial regulator has also turned to the courts to try to gain clarity on whether insurers should pay out coronavirus-related claims to small businesses. Some other French insurers have said they will pay out business interruption losses to some customers, depending on specific contracts. Generali France, for example, has said it will make payments to 600 hospitality businesses.
“I think this decision will reignite the debate,” Emilie Martin, an insurance agent and associate at Dijon-based Spiegel Bletry Martin, said of the Paris court decision.
AXA also said it would provide a further 500 million euros ($546 million) in aid for small companies, on top of plans already announced by French insurers to invest 1.7 billion euros in domestic companies.
“This decision in Paris has a global resonance,” says Marigold.