East charities 'missing out' on pandemic insurance windfall

Stef Smith, , charities manager at chartered accountants Lovewell Blake

Stef Smith, , charities manager at chartered accountants Lovewell Blake, is encouraging charities affected to pursue insurance claims for business interruption during the pandemic - Credit: Lee Blanchflower/Blanc Creative

Charities in Norfolk and Suffolk could be missing out on thousands of pounds in pandemic-related insurance payouts, a financial expert has warned.

Stef Smith, charities manager at East Anglian chartered accountants Lovewell Blake, says some organisations may not have realised that they could qualify for business interruption cover payments totalling tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result of lockdown.

Some may not realise that cover could apply to some of their activities, she said.

Those most affected would include charity shops forced to close because of the Covid lockdown, and others which rely on activity-based income such as hiring out facilities to other organisations but which found themselves unable to operate because of the coronavirus restrictions.

“I am aware of business interruption insurance payments ranging from £5,000 to £300,000 made to charities operating in our region,” said Mrs Smith. 

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“It’s unlikely that many charities would be eligible for amounts at the top end of this scale, but for organisations which have seen their trading income hit by the pandemic, claiming on insurance policies which they have been paying premiums for could make a big difference at a time when traditional fundraising has been very difficult.”

“Following the changes surrounding business interruption claims, I would urge every charity to check their insurance policies to see whether they include business interruption cover, and if so, to speak to their broker or insurance to identify if a claim is possible..”

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The cover won't provide protection against a decline in traditional fundraising activity, but may pay out where activities have been interrupted by lockdown - or rental income lost due to the pandemic.

“Each policy is different, and it will be a case of checking what is an isn’t covered,” said Mrs Smith. 

She also urged charities not to take no for an answer if they believe they should be covered -  and to pursue claims through their broker if appropriate. 

Some insurance companies attempting to claim that business interruption insurance does not cover a global pandemic – a claim which was rejected by the Supreme Court in a test case heard in January.

“Charities’ incomes have been hard-hit by the pandemic, just as demand for their services has in many cases peaked,” said Mrs Smith. 

“If they have been paying insurance premiums over the years, it is important that they ensure that they make a claim if they are entitled to do so – their beneficiaries are the ones who will ultimately lose out if they don’t.”

According to the Charities Commission there are 3,536 charities registered as working in Norfolk, and 3,188 in Suffolk.

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