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Vintners call for insurance companies to honour interruption cover


BLACK AND WHITE? An insurance policy belonging to a Westport publican included the following condition, but up to now, no payments have been forthcoming.

Anton McNulty

The Chairman of the Vintners Federation of Ireland in Mayo has called on Minister Simon Harris to declare that pubs were forced to close in order for insurance companies to cover them for a loss of income.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and the Licensed Vintners Association criticised both FBD and Allianz for failing to honour ‘Business Interruption’ cover for pubs who have been forced to close due to Covid-19.
A policy from one of the major companies who insures public houses, seen by The Mayo News, stated that ‘the company will indemnify the insured as a result of the business being affected by: 1) Imposed closure of the premises by order of the Local or Government Authority following D) Outbreaks of contagious or infectious diseases on the premises or with 25 miles of same.’ Alan Gielty, Chairman of the VFI in Mayo criticised the insurance companies for failing to honour the affected pubs but also called on Minister Harris to provide the VFI with a letter stating that pubs had to close.
“The Government promised the VFI a letter from the Minister which was to state that pubs were mandatorily forced to close but we have not got it to date and the government seem to be kicking the can down the road. The insurance companies are holding out and will refuse to pay out until the letter is issued or when a lockdown is announced. The insurance companies should remember that they were bailed out after the collapse of Setanta [Insurance] and we are taking the hit now,” he said.

Earlier this month VFI agreed with the government that their members would close their pubs until March 29 but Mr Gielty said there is a fear that pubs will not open until later in the summer. “The banks say they will allow mortgage holders a three month holiday but they won’t make any losses because they will add it to the end of the term. Publicans will never get St Patrick’s Day 2020 back or Easter 2020 because we won’t be open. There is a fear among vintners that it could be July or even September before a pub is open again and that is the reality. Everyone says that when we open, the pubs will be full again. But who will have the money to go out to a pub or restaurant given the amount of people who will lose their job. We are going to take a big hit because of all this,” he said.

Closure warning
Meanwhile, publicans who fail to adhere by the recommendations to keep their pub closed were warned that the issue will be raised by gardaí when they go to renew their licence.
There has been reports that pubs in parts of the country remain open despite VFI recommendations to members to close their premises. Superintendent Kevin Gately said that while Mayo publicans have acted honourably, he advised them to continue to remain closed.
“Every pub has to renew their licence in September. If pubs continuously to breach the current guidelines we will bring that information to the attention of the court,” he warned.