Between them the two groups represent more than 500 Hiscox policy holders, and the new alliance will allow for the sharing of information; the pooling of resources; and closer collaborations in the legal actions being brought against the insurer.
Last month the NTIA announced it would be coordinating claims made against Hiscox for refusing to pay out under its business interruption policy in relation to the Coronavirus crisis.
Industry barrister Philip Kolvin QC has been instructed to advise its members on their rights under their insurance policies, and to challenge Hixcox’s insurance claim denial.
“This alliance will ratchet up the pressure on Hiscox,” says NTIA CEO Michael Kill.
“These policies have clearly been triggered and we are determined to do everything we can to get Hiscox to pay out quickly and in full.”
Hiscox has previously responded to market speculation regarding its business interruption exposure saying: “[Our] core policy wordings do not provide cover for business interruption as a result of the general measures taken by the UK government in response to a pandemic. In determining any response to claims or complaints, Hiscox reviews every case individually.”
According to the alliance, however, the policy wording that applies to ‘most members’ of the two action groups states it would pay out when a business was forced to shut owing to a notifiable disease.
Mark Killick, of the Hiscox Action Group steering committee, has branded the insurer’s behaviour ‘disgraceful’, adding that the decision not to payout on its business interruption policies threatens thousands of UK businesses.
“By working together with the NTIA, we hope to force Hiscox to do the right thing before it is too late for many of our members,” he says.
The Hiscox Action Group is a wide grouping of policy holders who have instructed Mishcon de Reya as legal counsel, and had their legal action underwritten by litigation funder Harbour.
“I welcome this alliance with NTIA,” says Mishcon partner Richard Leedham, who is leading the action.
“Hiscox has said that it did not intend to cover what has happened. This is irrelevant.
“We are looking at what is in the contract. Hiscox has provided a very broad form of wording and its natural meaning would cover someone whose business was interrupted by the lockdown.”
Update: Responding to BigHospitality's request for comment, Hiscox said: “We understand these are incredibly difficult times for businesses and we are paying claims that are covered by the policies we issue fairly and quickly. We review every case individually, and if any customer has concerns about the application of their policy, we encourage them to get in touch with us directly.”