Anger as insurance company refuses to pay out on coronavirus

Dale Watts is angry at the insurance industry for refusing to pay out on coronavirus. Picture: DALE

Dale Watts is angry at the insurance industry for refusing to pay out on coronavirus. Picture: DALE WATTS - Credit: Dale Watts

A self-employed trader has blasted the insurance industry for refusing to pay out on coronavirus.

Dale Watts, who runs Akenham Fine Furniture from his workshop at Akenham, near Ipswich, said the government needed to take action to force insurers to pay up as the crisis forces Britain to stay behind closed doors.

Mr Watts said he had paid £100 a month to NFU Mutual for a combined policy for the last 15 years to protect himself against business interruption from events such as fire and flooding.

However, because coronavirus had not been heard of when the policy was drawn up Mr Watts said NFU were refusing to pay out.

He said: “They have quite happily taken the premiums for the last 15 years but the one time I need it I’m not going to get any help off them.

“It’s disgusting that the insurance industry is allowed to do this. It needs action by the government to force them to pay.”

Mr Watts said he had lost three months work in the space of a few days as customers cancelled appointments for work and went into lockdown last week.

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But despite having no money coming in and being unable to work because of the lockdown, he still had monthly outgoings of £500 for overheads such as his workshop rent and car.

He estimated he had enough savings to last another few weeks before he would be forced to cash in his pension just to survive.

He said: “I’ve got no income at all until I can get back to work and because my partner is in full time employment I can’t claim anything so we will have to try to survive on her salary.”

MORE: Council leaders issue stark ‘Stay at home’ warningAn NFU Mutual spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear Mr Watts has been left disappointed by his cover and we understand this is an incredibly difficult time for many businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“In line with UK market practice, our standard Business Interruption cover usually requires damage to property, such as storms or fires, in order to be triggered, which means the majority of customers will not be covered for coronavirus.

“There is an extension available for human diseases which some customers may have taken up. That provides cover if premises need to close or their use is restricted as a result of a specified list of diseases. coronavirus is not included on that list.

“We do have a small number of covers or cover extensions in operation which might be triggered by coronavirus and at NFU Mutual, we always seek to support our customers wherever possible and will look to extend cover whenever we can.”

The spokesperson said global pandemics such as coronavirus require solutions and larger financial packages from authorities and central government rather than cover from insurers, who underwrite known risks.

“This is something the UK government is aware of. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, acknowledged many businesses wouldn’t be insured when he announced his £330bn government support package for businesses,” the spokesperson said.

“He has since gone further for those affected, and promised to cover 80% of wages, up to £2,500 a month, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“If interruption to business is not covered by our customers’ insurance policy, we are advising them to seek out the Government’s package of support.”

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