By Damon Mitchell • 26 May 2020 • 18:06
THE French multinational insurance firm agreed on Tuesday it would meet the bulk of business interruption claims from restaurant owners in France after it lost a court case that was seen as a potential precedent for coronavirus-related disputes across the world.
A Paris court ruled last week that AXA, France’s biggest insurance group, should pay a restaurant owner two months’ worth of revenue losses caused by the virus pandemic. The insurers argued its policy did not cover business disruption caused by the health crisis.
Stephane Manigold, the owner of four Paris restaurants who brought the case against the French insurer, has received calls from Britain, South Africa, Spain and the United States since the court decision, asking for details of his contract and the court’s ruling.
“This decision in Paris has a global resonance,” he said.
In Britain, the financial regulator has also turned to the courts to try to get clarity on whether insurers should pay out coronavirus-related claims to small businesses.
AXA has said it will appeal the Paris ruling, but Chief Executive Thomas Buberl said on Tuesday the company was seeking an amicable solution and planned to meet the bulk of claims from restaurant owners whose contracts contained some ambiguity.
“These contracts represent less than 10 per cent out of total contracts with restaurant owners and I am confident that we will find a solution,” Buberl said.
“We want to compensate a substantial part of these contracts, we want to do it quickly.”
AXA also said it would provide a further €500 million in aid for small companies, on top of the €1.7 billion already announced by French insurers to invest.
“The idea is clearly to reinforce those companies which are weakened by this crisis,” Buberl said.
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