Owner James Walters renewed his insurance only a few weeks before the incident that left seven people dead and nearly 50 injured. Arabica is covered for business interruption but not in the result of a terrorist attack.
Walters has been paying all of his 39 staff since the restaurant closed and estimates the total cost to his business to be £50,000. A second Arabica Bar & Kitchen was in the works, but this huge, unexpected dent in his business's finances has brought expansion into question.
“It's swallowed up to a third of all the savings we had for the deposit on our next place," he says. “We haven’t given up. We know other businesses that have had a similar experience with their insurers. We will be applying pressure to them."
Some businesses have already had successful negotiations with their policy providers, with some paying out on an ex gratia basis. "This makes it even more frustrating for us," says Walters. "Ours have just said 'no, see you later, we hope business gets back to normal'. We feel that is inhumane, insensitive and inflexible. We signed up for the document in good faith and have all the relevant covers in place."
Businesses in and around the market re-opened yesterday following an 11-day investigation and clean-up operation.
“Insurers - and not only ours, are being ruthless. Because of the unusualness of this horrible incident it appears a lot of us have fallen through the fine print of our policies. Given the huge profits these companies make, they should be more willing to support small businesses in exceptional circumstances such as these.”
“It was a horrific and traumatic incident and I don't want them to now have the added worry about financial security,” says Walters. “The team’s livelihoods depend on this restaurant. It’s not just wages either, there's also tips and service charge to consider. The first thing on my mind was 'are my customers alright? and are my staff alright?'. But as a business owner I'm now starting to think about how I'm going to support my team and make them feel secure.”