Zurich UK welcomes FCA's announcement regarding business interruption caused by COVID-19

2 June 2020 — press.release
Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) welcomes the announcement of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to test policy wordings from across the UK insurance industry in the UK High Court, with the aim of bringing clarity to policyholders and insurers over coverage issues relating to business interruption stemming from the unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The FCA said its selection of a representative sample of wordings from across the UK industry is intended to clarify which business interruption policies respond to the pandemic and which do not. The Zurich UK wordings put forward by the FCA represent Zurich's version of standard industry provisions which are not designed to provide cover for pandemics such as COVID-19. Based on the Group's own review of wordings and legal opinion received from external counsel, Zurich believes that the Zurich UK wordings do not provide cover for business interruption in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak. This view is further supported by the limited numbers of claims received to date by Zurich's UK business in relation to business interruption, and the very low level of disputes over coverage experienced by the Group.

On the basis of this opinion, experience to date and Zurich's scenario analysis, the Zurich Insurance Group remains confident that the total P&C claims cost for the full year will remain in line with the approximately USD 750 million disclosed with the first-quarter update on May 14, 2020, though the continuing nature of the event means that this is subject to significant uncertainty.

Throughout the current health emergency, Zurich has continued to deliver on its commitment to customers and to the communities in which it operates. As part of this commitment the Group has provided a range of financial relief through premium rebates, payment holidays and extensions of coverage, as well as additional support to commercial customers through knowledge sharing on how best to manage risk and to protect their employees and customers. This commitment also extends to the prompt payment of claims where coverage exists. The Group's additional measures to support customers and its commitments to communities totaled more than USD 90 million in the first quarter.

In the unlikely event that the UK High Court were to judge that all industry wordings reviewed in the FCA process do provide cover for business interruption in relation to COVID-19, then Zurich estimates that this would result in approximately USD 200 million of claims net of reinsurance in addition to the scenario for full-year 2020 claims related to COVID-19 presented on May 14. This amount includes assessment of the potential impact to all Zurich UK business, not limited to SME. The continuing nature of the event means that this is subject to significant uncertainty.

Source: zurich.com

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