‘Completely fatuous’ - Pub landlord hits out after £36,500 Covid-19 claim refused

Clive Stockton outside the Hill House Inn at Happisburgh. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Clive Stockton outside the Hill House Inn at Happisburgh. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A pub landlord has hit out at his insurers after a Covid-19 claim for £36,500 was refused.

The Hill House Inn at Happisburgh. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Hill House Inn at Happisburgh. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Clive Stockton, who has run the Hill House Inn at Happisburgh for nearly 30 years, said he was advised by his insurance brokers, Norwich-based Towergate, that he could put in a claim due to the lockdown, which he did on May 5.

But nearly seven weeks later, he received a letter from China Taiping - the actual insurers - refusing the claim.

Mr Stockton said he felt “frustrated and let down”.

He said: “We got an unsigned letter from China Taiping saying we didn’t have a claim, and it was dated April 30, before we’d even put the claim in, so it was obviously a generic letter.

“We went through the complaints procedure and they upheld the decision. They said we could have claimed if we had to close on the direction of a local authority, but the secretary of state who ordered that pubs close is not local.

“It’s completely fatuous. There must be a lot of people being let down by insurance companies right now.”

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The High Court is currently considering a test case into business interruption insurance during the pandemic.

Mr Stockton said they now had to borrow money to be able to reopen the 16th century pub, which they were hoping to do on August 8, because Mr Stockton is shielding until the end of July.

He said their claim was mostly for loss of business, but also included £7,900 for lost stock due to the beer that spoiled during the lockdown.

George Man, from the claims department at China Taiping, said: “We sympathise with all businesses that have been affected by the government’s coronavirus regulations to combat the threat of Covid-19.

“Whilst we do not discuss individual cases, we have provided Mr Stockton with our stance with regards to his claim and policy cover.

“Our complaint procedure has also been fully explained to Mr Stockton and our final response letter has been issued.”

A Towergate spokesman said they could not comment on specific cases, but said: “We are assisting all policyholders in the claims process, including the policyholder concerned here. We are engaging at a senior level with insurers and the Financial Conduct Authority on this difficult and complex issue of business interruption claims arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic in an effort to find a solution for our clients.”