Kim Roe, 57, managing director of Circa Group, a conferences and events business based in Tunbridge Wells, was elated when she heard about the high court judgment in the Financial Conduct Authority’s test case on business interruption policies. “It’s a great relief,” she said. “It could save mine and hundreds of smaller businesses around the country.”
Roe set up her business, which organises conferences and charity events, in 2009. The firm has been insured with Hiscox ever since. Hiscox was one of several insurance firms which had refused pay out on business interruption insurance claims caused by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
“When the judgment came out, I checked and we are in the categories of those that should be covered,” she said.
Roe said it was “extremely frustrating and disappointing” to learn during the Covid-19 lockdown that Hiscox was refusing to acknowledge legitimate claims on the business interruption policy.
“I feel the wording was clear on the policy. We’ve paid for it every year and that’s what insurance is for. If we’re covered, we’re covered. I feel they have to step up to the mark,” she said, adding that Hiscox’s refusal to pay out on it business interruption insurance policies was particularly disappointing because the insurer had a reputation for being good for small businesses.
Before the pandemic, Circa Group employed eight people and also used a host of freelancers. Now it’s just Roe and one part-timer. “We lost all of our business for this year, every single event. A lot of things have been postponed into the second quarter of next year,” she said.
Roe estimated that Circa lost £500,000 in business this year and will lose a further £1.5m next year, because of the cancellation of major events. She hopes to claim for those losses on the business interruption policy, and potentially future losses because the events and hospitality industry will take a long time to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
She believes the Hiscox policy provides cover for up to five years of losses. “We won’t be anywhere near our normal trading levels for three to five years because the conference and events industry has been massively hit,” she said.