Hospitality outfits hunt down Old Mutual, Hollard over Covid claims

Old Mutual and Hollard Namibia are refusing to pay compensation for loss of earnings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

27 April 2021 | Justice

MARC SPRINGER

WINDHOEK



Following a N$638 million lawsuit against Hollard Insurance by Gondwana Selection Namibia, three more hospitality establishments are now attempting to force their insurers to pay out compensation for loss of earnings.

The claims have been submitted by the Ghaub Investments, Kambazembi Guest Farm and N/a'an ku sê Wildlife Enterprises against their respective insurers, Hollard Insurance and Old Mutual.

In the case of Old Mutual, claimants Ghaub Investments and Kambazembi submit that they took out fully comprehensive insurance in November and December 2019 and have since paid their monthly premiums of N$26 000 and N$7 600 respectively.

All three applicants cite the Covid pandemic, which led to the closure of the Namibian borders and legally defined quarantine regulations. For this reason, it was impossible for visitors from home and abroad to visit the establishments of the three applicants, who subsequently lost almost all of their historic income.



Comprehensive coverage

Old Mutual has so far refused to compensate for the loss of income caused by the pandemic. The two establishments consider this to be unlawful because their insurance contracts contain a clause that applies in the event of a loss of income and expressly includes the exceptional situation of an infectious human disease, such as a pandemic.

In their application, the applicants emphasise that they were not responsible for the loss of income and that they had no influence on the pandemic or the subsequent measures to contain it.

They are therefore of the opinion that this was clearly an insured event for which Old Mutual is liable in terms of the existing insurance contract.



Long battle ahead

N/a'an ku sê follows the exact same reasoning for its legal action against its insurer, Hollard.

As in the case of the other two compensation claims, N/a'an ku sê has not yet specified the amount of its claim and the respondents have not yet offered a response.

The applicants likely face a drawn-out legal dispute in which the amount of compensation must first be determined, if there is a rightful claim against the defendants at all.

The recent urgent appeal by Gondwana against Hollard was dismissed as not urgent by the High Court. That means Gondwana also has to prepare for a hard-fought and protracted dispute.

The High Court's rejection implies that the lawsuit will not be given priority and is thus unlikely to be heard and concluded for a number of years.

According to Gondwana, this could spell the end of the company and the careers of its 1 200 employees, who already face redundancy due to acute financial difficulties.

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