The insurance group Axa announced Thursday that it would release an envelope of 300 million euros for 15,000 of its restaurant customers, in order to absorb part of their losses due to Covid-19.
This amicable solution concerns restaurateurs holding a loss of business without damage contract. The group had been the subject of legal action by some of these restaurateurs who challenged the refusal
of the insurer to indemnify them, Axa putting forward a guarantee exclusion clause.
In February, the insurer was sentenced on appeal to compensate a Marseille restaurant owner for operating losses suffered as a result of the containment measures.
With this amicable solution, the group now wishes to put an end to “the current legal uncertainty”, he explains in a press release.
“The cost of this settlement, after tax and after reinsurance, should be offset by favorable developments in 2021, linked to the Covid-19 crisis, in France and in Europe,” he adds.
“It is not a compensation, it is a transaction” in order to “put behind us this difficulty, the legal vagueness that we have experienced” in the file of operating losses of restaurateurs, said Thomas Buberl, director general of the Axa group, the target of a long list of disputes before the courts which he has so far often lost.
“I regret everything that happened”
Several hundred restaurant owners who are Axa clients have taken the insurer to court in recent months, with decisions that are certainly contrasting, but often losing for the group so far. So far, the company has recorded some 1,500 legal proceedings.
“I regret everything that happened, because we were divided with the restaurateurs by a misunderstanding. We have seen that the courts of appeal have ruled in several directions. We want to put this behind us,” said Mr. Buberl.
“Axa has 100 million customers, for 15,000 we put 300 million on the table, it is really a large sum”, he insisted, specifying that the group’s agents will now work in the field to assess the needs. of each customers.
The first payments should be made from June and last until the end of September, Patrick Cohen, the new CEO of Axa France, told AFP. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, a large number of businesses and hotel and catering establishments were forced to close for months due to the containment measures.
Those of them who hoped that their operating losses would be covered by their insurer must have been disillusioned, most companies explaining that they do not cover losses linked to a pandemic episode. This interpretation has been particularly contested by a number of restorers.