MSP asks First Minister to tackle insurance companies who’ve “wriggled out” of their obligations

The First Minster is to ask the Scottish Government Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, to have direct discussion with the insurance sector about companies who are “wriggling out of their obligations” to Scottish businesses.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, asked Nicola Sturgeon today at First Minister’s Questions about the problems firms were having claiming their business interruption insurance.

He said: “The First Minister will be well aware that thousands of small business across Scotland, from hotels to hardware stores, are trying to claim on their insurance policies because of interruption of their trading caused by the lockdown.

“However, several insurers have been accused of wriggling out of their obligations which puts the future of many businesses at risk.

“Will the First Minister meet with insurance companies and spell out that leadership and social responsibility are crucial during the pandemic so that we can still have a functioning economy when the lockdown ends?”

Nicola Sturgeon replied: “I am very clear insurance companies, like everybody else who has a responsibility right now, should play fair and should understand the difficulties that businesses are having through no fault of their own.

“I send that message without equivocation. I think anyone trying to wriggle out of obligations right now is doing a disservice to the challenge that all of us are facing and dealing with.

“Certainly, I am happy to ask the Finance Secretary to have a more direct discussion with the insurance sector just to make sure there is an understanding and to make sure there is nothing further that we can do to in terms of guidance to provide clarity about what people should be doing and how they should be acting.”

Afterwards Mr Stewart added: “I am grateful that the First Minister recognises the problem and hope that any discussion with the insurance sector can bring home how devastating it is for companies who have had their claims for business interruption insurance turned down.

““Companies who can’t claim are at risk of going under sooner and that puts the whole local economy at risk.”

Last month Mr Stewart found widespread frustration and concern from Highlands and Islands firms over delays in accessing loans and a refusal to pay out on business interruption insurance.

The MSP wrote to business groups across his area asking if banks were making it harder to get business interruption loans and if insurers were refusing to pay out for claims on business interruption insurance policies.

Among those to respond to the MSP’s request, were Chambers of Commerce in Caithness, Moray, Lochaber and Mid-Argyll.