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Wimbledon insurance

By Matthew Liston

Jun 29th, 2020

Covid-19 and risks for insurance brokers

Wimbledon was set to start on 29 June 2020. Whilst the tournament has been cancelled this year, the financial blow has been cushioned by pandemic insurance which is anticipated will pay out around £114 million.

However, the Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (“AELTC”), Richard Lewis, has reportedly confirmed that it is now “impossible” for the AELTC to get pandemic insurance going forward “in the current climate”. An interesting point and something for brokers to consider if faced with an unwarranted negligence claim from a client questioning the adequacy of their insurance arrangements. 

The first reported case of Covid-19 has been traced back to 17 November 2019 in Wuhan, China. However, it was not until 9 January 2020 that the World Health Organisation announced that a novel coronavirus had been detected in China. 

The first reported case in the UK was on 29 January 2020. At that time, the risk to the UK population was assessed as low by the Department of Health and Public Health England. By 11 February 2020, 8 people in England had tested positive for Covid-19 and the risk was described as moderate. 

On 3 March 2020, Boris Johnson, joined by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor, ended a Downing Street Covid-19 press conference with the words: “I want to stress that for the vast majority of the people of this country, we should be going about our business as usual.” The UK entered a full-scale lockdown on 23 March 2020.

It is now clear to all that Covid-19 is highly contagious. It has also been far more deadly than previous pandemics like SARS (another coronavirus) which killed around 800 people worldwide. 

Some policyholders may seek to allege that their insurance brokers should have done more to advise them on the adequacy of their cover in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, sometime between November 2019 and March 2020. However, in the context of the above, it is very difficult to see how policyholders will be able to successfully establish that: 

1.    their brokers were under a duty to advise them to take out insurance which would have provided cover for the current circumstances (both the pandemic and the Government’s response to it); and 

2.    that such cover was available and, if so, at a price they would have been prepared to pay (The AELTC is reported to have paid around £25.5m in premiums over the last 17 years to extend their cover to include communicable diseases). 

No doubt claims will emerge against insurance brokers, but those claims are likely to be hard fought and for good reason. 

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