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Business groups slam insurers and banks over delays

By David G Scott

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CAITHNESS Chamber of Commerce is one of several business groups in the Highlands to criticise delays in payments made by banks and insurers to companies during the Covid-19 crisis.

The chamber's comments came after Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart found widespread frustration and concern among firms in the region over delays in accessing loans and a refusal to pay out on business interruption insurance.

His enquiries into how widespread the dissatisfaction was drew responses from chambers of commerce in Caithness, Moray, Lochaber and Mid-Argyll.

They knew about the issues and noted frustration from their members over applying for bank and business interruption loans and also how some insurance claims were not being met.

Trudy Morris is chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce.Picture: DGS
Trudy Morris is chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce.Picture: DGS

Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are deeply concerned that even businesses that believed they had purchased appropriate insurance cover are not having success in making claims.

"We are finding that either businesses are being told they are not covered as Covid-19 was not named on their policy or because it has not been confirmed on their premises.

"While we appreciate the pressures that the insurance industry will be facing at this time, it is disheartening that many businesses have paid a premium for this kind of cover only to discover that their claims are being denied.

"It is incumbent on the UK and Scottish governments to work together to find a solution to this issue and ensure that businesses can survive this crisis."

Mr Stewart is writing to the Association of British Insurers with all the replies he has received asking for it to examine what it can do to relieve the strain on companies.

He said: “I can understand that this is difficult for the insurance industry, which is under great strain, but yet again businesses are being strangled by the small print.

“If companies can’t claim, they are at risk of going under sooner and that puts the whole local economy at risk.”

Moray Chamber of Commerce explained there was also a delay of up to 12 weeks for the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Mr Stewart added: “Again a wait of three months could be the death knell for many of our businesses and I am writing to the Scottish finance secretary, Kate Forbes, with this information asking if pressure can be applied to speed up the process.”

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