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Agents’ insurance battle moves step forward

Agents fighting for business interruption insurance payouts are on the verge of appointing a law firm to start claims on an individual ‘no win, no fee’ basis.

Bailey’s Travel managing director Chris Bailey, who is spearheading the legal challenge, had originally hoped for a class action but said this would prove costly and difficult because policies varied.

However, final discussions are under way with a law firm prepared to take on agents with different claims on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Agents could be grouped with claimants from other sectors with the same policy within several group actions.

Bailey urged more agents who took out insurance prior to Covid-19 to come forward.

“I’d encourage any agency with a business interruption policy to at least contact me,” he said.

“There is no investment needed. The more agents we have, the better deal we can strike, which will put more money in agents’ pockets if we succeed.”

Bailey is in talks with lawyers to reduce fees for any successful case.

He said: “We’ve worked hard to find a company to deal with this properly. Agents will be dealt with individually, but the chances are other claimants, not necessarily in travel, are likely to have the same policy.”

Bailey, who stressed agents face mounting debts that could take a decade to pay off, backed a call by Travel Counsellors founder David Speakman for insurers to pay out.

Speakman dubbed their failure to date as “corporate bullying at its worst” and cited cases of insured agents having their employee furlough payments deducted from their total claim by insurers, even though they hadn’t claimed for these payments, and delaying payouts by asking for more detail.

He said: “These delays are life‑threatening for already battered travel businesses. It’s corporate bullying at its most shameful and distasteful – a trait of big business, airlines and insurers which somewhere along the way have lost their integrity and sense of fair play.”

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