AXA settles COVID claims from French restaurants with $ 365 million payment

“As restaurants are finally allowed to welcome their customers again, we are taking this initiative so that everyone can look to the future and focus on restarting economic activity,” said Patrick Cohen, CEO of AXA France, in a press release dated June 10. . (Photo: Christophe Morin / Bloomberg)

AXA has agreed to pay 300 million euros (roughly $ 365 million) to settle 15,000 claims from French restaurateurs who were forced to close their activities during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

In a June 10 press release, the Paris-based insurer said the proposed regulation would apply to restaurateurs holding a “standard policy” with extended coverage for business interruption related to the administrative shutdown. In addition, AXA said the payment is intended to cover around 15% of the turnover of the catering business (excluding delivery, take-out and online sales) made by policyholders during the lockdowns of the year. last.

“AXA played its role and acted responsibly during the pandemic, supporting hundreds of thousands of customers and making a significant contribution to financing the economic recovery,” said Patrick Cohen, CEO of AXA France, in a communicated. “We regret the misunderstandings with some of our restaurant customers, especially since this sector was particularly affected during the health crisis.”

Although the settlement is substantial, AXA expects the net cost of the offering to be offset by positive COVID-related developments so far in 2021 in France and Europe, according to Moody’s, which also said a stable outlook for AXA and its entities throughout the year. .

AXA’s proposal comes more than a year after losing a legal battle against Parisian restaurateur Stéphane Manigold in May 2020. Manigold filed a lawsuit to force AXA to cover two months of lost revenue its companies suffered as a result of government-mandated closures. At the time of the court ruling, AXA CEO Thomas Buberl said the company plans to address the bulk of complaints from restaurateurs whose contracts contained some ambiguity, which represented less than 10% of contracts. restoration of the insurer.

In the United States, nearly 1,700 lawsuits have been filed by companies against insurers for denying COVID-19 claims, with 120 cases currently on appeal in state and federal courts, according to the COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker from the Carey Law School at the University of Pennsylvania. .

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