Insurers pay out nearly 40% of expected £1.2bn SME Covid bill

Since the court ruling in January, many SME business interruption claims are still awaiting decision, despite insurers being told to act fast.

Insurers have paid out on less than half of estimated business interruption loan claims since the Supreme Court tipped in favour of SMEs.

The test case weighed up whether SMES that claimed on business interruption insurance for pandemic-related losses should be entitled to it.

>See also: Small firms win pay-outs in Covid business interruption insurance ruling

More than 10,000 UK policyholders have received some money since the Supreme Court ruling in January, with the total topping £470m. However, thousands are still waiting for an answer, even though the court ruled that decisions should be made quickly.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released the first batch of claims data this week, based on admissions from insurers. It set out how many claims relating to the case had been accepted and repaid.

The regulator’s preliminary assessment last June showed that the total claims from this test case could be £1.2bn. It made clear that this was not a firm estimate and was set out before the Supreme Court’s ruling.

For 8,177 of the claims, where final settlements have been agreed and paid, a total of £280m had been paid out, according to the FCA. For the 2,030 claims that hadn’t been settled, but where an interim payment had been made, the total paid out by the start of the month was £192m.

According to the data, the insurer with the largest number of pending business interruption claims was Hiscox at 4,239. It also indicated that Hiscox had made a final or interim payment on just over half the number of claims it had accepted.

MS Amlin had the second-biggest number of pending claims at 3,224 and AXA took third place at 2,109.

FirmNumber of claims pending
Hiscox Insurance Company Ltd4,239
MS Amlin Underwriting Limited3,224
AXA Insurance UK plc2,109
Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc1,071
The New India Assurance Company Limited1,017
Argenta Syndicate Management Limited997
Covea Insurance plc757
AXIS Managing Agency Limited668
ERGO Versicherung Aktiengesellschaft649
MS Amlin Insurance SE493

Covea Insurance came out on top for agreed and settled payments, with 2,294 policies resolved. Axis Managing Agency had settled and paid out on 1,547 policies and Allianz Insurance had done so for 1,459 policies.

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.