Coronavirus: Hiscox Action Group hires City lawyer to lead legal battle

Hiscox Action Group has instructed a leading City law firm and is in talks with a litigation funder in its battle against Hiscox Insurance.

Mishcon de Raya's Richard Leedham is the partner leading on the Hiscox Action Group case
Mishcon de Raya's Richard Leedham is the partner leading on the Hiscox Action Group case

Hiscox Action Group – which has 200 policyholders, including Media Zoo – is moving closer to taking action against Hiscox Insurance over rejected claims made due to the coronavirus.

The group has hired Mishcon de Reya as its lead counsel and is in advanced discussions with a litigation funder to underwrite its legal costs.

The group wants Hiscox to pay out on ‘Business Interruption' claims for a policy that states it covers interruptions to business caused by infectious disease.

Mishcon de Reya partner Richard Leedham said: “We are very excited to be involved in this claim and have been very surprised by Hiscox’s reaction to date. Our instructions are to pursue all claims as vigorously as possible to prevent hundreds of good British companies from being driven out of business.”

The Hiscox Action Group now comprises more than 200 policyholders, with “dozens joining daily”. Many businesses within the group plan to take their claims to the Ombudsman and either use arbitration or, if that fails, pursue litigation.

Media Zoo creative director Mark Killic, who first alerted the media that Hiscox was not paying out on the claims in early April, is part of a steering group to co-ordinate the action. 

“Hiscox thought it could get away without paying but that is not going to happen. We have appointed top legal counsel, we will be fully funded and we are going to force Hiscox to do the right thing and honour its obligations,” he said.

Simon Ager, managing director of the Pinnacle Climbing Centre and steering group member, described Hiscox’s behaviour as “disgraceful”. 

“The policy wording is clear and unambiguous, and the insurance has clearly been triggered,” he said. “In refusing to pay out in a shoddy attempt to preserve its own balance sheet, Hiscox is putting the future of hundreds of British businesses at risk.” 

A Hiscox spokesperson told PRWeek: "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.

“Where the application of a policy is disputed, our focus is on helping to provide customers with greater certainty. A fair and fast resolution is in everybody’s interests, which is why we will work with the UK insurance industry, our regulators and customers to seek an expedited resolution through the range of existing independent mechanisms.”

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