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Class action launched as some insurers refuse to pay business interruption insurance

The Merchant Law Group has issued a national class action against all indemnity insurers in Canada for breach of contract.
The Merchant Law Group has issued a national class action against all indemnity insurers in Canada for breach of contract. Global News

As COVID-19 forces businesses to close or limit their operations, a Regina business owner is getting involved in a national class action lawsuit against indemnity insurers in Canada.

Thomas Siarkos, owner of Memories Fine Dining in Regina, alleges that despite paying for “premium insurance”, his insurer is refusing to pay business interruption insurance.

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He says he’s been told by his broker that while his policy includes pandemic coverage, only “physical losses” accrued as a result of COVID-19 will be covered.

“We have business interruption, but they said the pandemic is not excluded but they can only pay for physical loss.”

Siarkos believes his losses due to the pandemic will run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars due to lost business.

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“It is really frustrating. We upped our insurance policy considerably in order to be covered,” he said.

“And now to be told we are not covered — if there is a case of business interruption, this is business interruption.”

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The class action was issued by Merchant Law.

“Indemnity insurers are wrongfully refusing to honour their contracts. They say the contracts have been frustrated. Business owners intended their insurance to cover against this. Insurance companies should pay,” said lawyer Anthony Merchant in a release.

Several insurance companies, Aviva Canada Inc, Co-operators General Insurance Company and Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company, are named as defendants in the suit.

“Insurance companies are claiming force majeur and refusing to pay,” Merchant continues. “This was foreseeable — it is not force majeur.”

Global News reached out to Aviva Canada Inc. but did not hear back by deadline.

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