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
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.