While GlobalData’s survey data indicated that small businesses’ trust in insurers increased following the business interruption court cases in 2020, the continued reporting of disputes is likely to reverse this trend. The latest such disagreement – Greggs suing Zurich over a disputed £100m ($135m) in insurance payouts – is another high-profile clash between UK businesses and the insurance industry.

According to GlobalData’s 2021 UK SME Insurance Survey, 21.6% of UK SMEs state that their trust in insurers has increased as a result of the business interruption court cases around COVID-19. This proportion is significantly higher than the 12.6% of SMEs for whom trust has either somewhat or significantly eroded. The survey reveals that 38.5% of UK SMEs have business interruption cover in place.

insurance payouts

Source: GlobalData’s 2021 UK SME Insurance Survey

 

SMEs’ trust is likely to have increased because they have seen that even if the insurer disputes a payout, there is an independent court that can, and will, force it to pay if it is deemed to be liable. It is also likely that going forward, policy wording will be clearer, removing ambiguity for the eventuality of future incidents.

Greggs’ claim over Zurich also relates to a business interruption claim as the retailer had to close stores during the lockdown period. It is therefore similar to the legal cases seen in 2020 and shows that issues arising from the UK COVID-19 lockdowns are far from over. An initial boost in SME confidence in insurance can be explained by the courts enforcing payouts, but if disputes around business interruption persist, the industry will risk reputational damage and being seen to be avoiding paying out claims.