AXA Offers Angry French Restaurants $365 Million for Covid Costs

AXA SA has offered to pay 300 million euros ($365 million) to French restaurant owners that were forced to shut during the pandemic as it tries to move on from a year of public backlash and legal challenges.

The French insurer is seeking to settle with about 15,000 restaurant clients after initially disputing what their policies covered during a pandemic. The cost should be offset by favorable coranavirus-related developments in 2021 in France and in Europe, the firm said in a statement Thursday.

AXA’s offer is expected to cover 15% of the businesses’ lost catering activity during the lockdown periods, and will be open from June 21 until Sept. 30, according to the statement.

“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 the restart of economic activity,” Patrick Cohen, chief executive officer of AXA France, said in the statement.

The settlement seeks to end a yearlong public fight between AXA and the policy holders. After eventually agreeing to cover losses sustained by several hundred restaurants, the insurer then started to face challenges in French courts and was recently ordered to compensate some other eateries.

“We regret the misunderstandings with some of our restaurant clients, especially given this sector was particularly hard hit during the sanitary crisis,” Cohen said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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