AXA, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, has agreed to pay COVID-related business interruption claims by a group of restaurants in Paris after a court ruled that the restaurants’ revenue losses resulting from COVID-19 and related government orders were covered under AXA’s policies.
AXA initially took the position that its insurance policies did not cover business interruption caused by COVID-19. The restaurant then sued AXA in a French court, seeking coverage for operating losses resulting from a government order issued in March mandating the closure of restaurants and bars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court concluded that the government orders, which prohibited restaurants from receiving the public and offering traditional sit-down dining services, triggered the policy’s coverage for business interruption coverage. The court rejected AXA’s argument that the pandemic was uninsurable, and made clear that if AXA intended to exclude such a risk it should have done so expressly in its policy. The court also rejected AXA’s argument that there must be a prerequisite of an insured event for the application of the “administrative closure” provision, noting that no prerequisite was required by the policy. AXA’s argument that the government orders did not require the restaurant to be closed because the restaurant was authorized to maintain take-away services was also rejected. As a result, the court ruled in favor of the policyholders, holding that the business interruption loss resulting from the government orders qualified for insurance coverage.
Reprinted courtesy of Sergio F. Oehninger, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Daniel Hentschel, Hunton Andrews Kurth
Mr. Oehninger may be contacted at soehninger@HuntonAK.com
Mr. Hentschel may be contacted at dhentschel@HuntonAK.com