THE Gondwana Collection will square off in the High Court with Hollard Namibia on the urgency of claims instituted by the private tourism operator on its business interruption insurance policy.
The counter application brought by Hollard Namibia seeks to defer the urgency of Gondwana’s claim and is set to be heard by a High Court judge on Friday.
Gondwana brought an application to the same court in the hope that a judge will find in its favour and compel the insurer to honour its business interruption insurance claim, as courts in both South Africa and abroad have done.
The tourism operator specifically took out a business interruption insurance policy for catastrophic risks, as it had been affected by both the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Icelandic ash cloud caused during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in April 2010.
In the meantime, Insurance Claims Africa (ICA), a specialist public loss adjustment firm that has over 30 years of experience in acting for vulnerable claimants facing extraordinarily difficult circumstances, that has acted on behalf of more than 900 claimants in the tourism and hospitality sector, against insurers, has thrown its weight behind Gondwana, as well as the N/a’an ku sê Group that is stuck in the same predicament.
ICA found that the claimants in this instance have valid business interruption insurance policies, which includes cover for infectious or notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19.
These claimants, according to ICA, in choosing an insurer and a policy, did so with the understanding and trust that their chosen insurer would be there for them when disaster struck.
ICA has been fighting to ensure claimants see justice and receive the financial support that is due to them so that they can continue to be part of the vital tourism sector, to contribute towards the economy, and to support and sustain jobs and communities.
Since March 2020, the majority of insurance companies, not only in Namibia but also in South Africa and the rest of the world, refused to recognise the validity of these claims, arguing that government-imposed lockdowns were the cause of the business interruption and not the pandemic.
Many insurers cited that they required legal certainty before recognising the validity of such claims.
After ten months of litigation in South Africa, while tourism and hospitality businesses struggled to stay open and preserve thousands of jobs, eight South African High Court judges and five Supreme Court judges ruled against the insurers in favour of these businesses in this most vulnerable sector.
Most insurers have now conceded that legal certainty has been established, and the claims settlement process is proceeding.
However, insurers are fighting hard to limit quantum and the indemnity period for which they are liable.