Finnish companies within the restaurant business request insurance compensation from a Finnish insurance company OP Pohjola based on Covid-19 restaurant restrictions. OP Pohjola has rejected the claims. Magnusson represents the restaurant companies against OP Pohjola and claims that OP Pohjola violates the insurance conditions.
Since the new corona virus started to spread in Europe in March 2020, Finnish authorities gave the following restrictions concerning restaurant business:
- For the period from 16 March 2020 to 3 April 2020, the Finnish government gave a recommendation to restrict any gatherings of people to maximum of 10 persons.
- For the period from 4 April 2020 to 31 May 2020, all restaurants in Finland were banned by a Government decree from taking customers in at all.
- For the period beginning of 31 May 2020, the Finnish parliament has made temporary amendments to the Finnish Communicable Diseases Act which limited the opening hours of the restaurant and the maximum number of customers from normal.
In spring/summer 2020, several Finnish companies within the restaurant business requested compensation based on their business interruption insurance from their insurance companies. OP Pohjola rejected the claims for insurance compensation.
Insurance company’s decision and the Finnish Insurance Commission’s recommended decision
The restaurants asked for a recommended decision from the Finnish Insurance Commission. The Finnish Insurance Commission gave a recommended decision stating that OP Pohjola should accept the insurance compensation requests by the restaurants.
OP Pohjola stated that it will not obey the Finnish Insurance Commission’s recommended decision since the Finnish Insurance Commission’s recommended decisions are not binding. OP Pohjola justified its decision stating that the interruption damage was not caused by a binding order of the authority referred to in the insurance terms.
OP Pohjola stated that the insurance compensation was conditional to the damage being:
- direct consequence
- from a binding order issued by a Finnish authority to combat communicable or animal diseases during the insurance period, based on:
- the Finnish Communicable Diseases Act, the Finnish Animal Diseases Act, or the Finnish Food Act, and that
- the measures resulting from the order are directly related to the insured business.
In addition, OP Pohjola stated that the Covid-19 related restrictions by the Finnish authorities were only temporary and, therefore, not considerable as binding orders referred to in the insurance terms.
In October 2020, due to the severe Covid-19 situation in Finland and over the world, the Finnish authorities continued the restrictions for restaurants until further notice.
In November 2020, OP Pohjola terminated business interruption insurances for its clients.
The Finnish Insurance Commission, Magnusson, and companies within the restaurant business disagree with OP Pohjola on its interpretation of OP Pohjola’s insurance terms relating to this situation. Magnusson and the restaurants are of the view that the wording of insurance terms in the applicable policies cover the described situation and that OP Pohjola is interpreting the term to its own advantage against the general rules for interpretation. Magnusson is preparing several claims to file to the Finnish district court. The case has already gained publicity in the Finnish media and has importance not just to the restaurants involved but to the society, as Covid-19 has hit the restaurant sector badly. Magnusson is representing approximately 50 Finnish companies in the restaurant business.
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