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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  Australian Stock Exchange  >  QBE Insurance Group Limited    QBE   AU000000QBE9

QBE INSURANCE GROUP LIMITED

(QBE)
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QBE Insurance : From cafes to dentists, relief at British coronavirus insurance ruling

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09/16/2020 | 04:56am EDT
Murray Pulman and his daughter Emily, who runs the Posh Partridge, pose outside their home in Dorset

Murray Pulman says he is as tough as they come, but battles with his insurer have left him close to tears after a coronavirus lockdown forced his family-run cafe The Posh Partridge to close.

Pulman was counting himself as one of the lucky ones on Tuesday, however, after a judgment in a London test case against eight insurance firms, including his insurer QBE, held up the promise of a payout on his business interruption policy.

He is among hundreds of thousands of mainly small British businesses now waiting to hear if their insurer will pay out imminently, or keep them hanging while they appeal.

"This has had me close to the edge," Pulman told Reuters by telephone from Dorchester, southwest England, where the cafe reopened on July 4 after its closure in late March.

QBE said in a statement on Wednesday that the court had ruled in its favour on two out of the three policy wordings examined and it was considering its options to appeal the ruling in favour of policyholders.

The cafe, which the 56-year-old started with his 29-year-old daughter Emily four years ago, now runs at half speed to allow social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"I will be paid one day ... (but) I expect them to run me ragged having to prove this and prove that, prove the other," he said.

The Posh Partridge was profitable from the start, says Pulman, who paid QBE around 1,350 pounds ($1,736) a year for a business interruption insurance policy for the business.

The terms of the QBE policy said it would pay out if the premises were closed by a local authority as a result of an outbreak of a contagious human disease within a 25 mile (40 km)radius.

But when the coronavirus pandemic hit and the cafe was forced to close, QBE told him he had no valid claim.

The High Court judgment means Pulman could qualify for a payout, pending any appeal, although he will likely remain reliant on volatile takings, which on one day fell as low as 22 pounds ($28), as long as the coronavirus pandemic persists.

"The insurer utterly abandoned us and sought to mitigate their losses to zero," he said.

"This judgment will not make that go away."

DENTAL WORK

Dentist Laith Abbas also got an abrupt no from QBE when he tried to claim as the government-imposed lockdown in March closed his North London surgery.

When he found his policy didn't pay out, he led a campaigning group of 2,000 dental practices with business interruption policies to seek redress.

Abbas said Tuesday's judgment had given its members hope.

"A lot of dentists have suffered in lockdown, and there's no light in the tunnel with a potential second wave," he added.

"Business interruption insurance is potentially the only thing that can keep dental practices afloat."

By Kirstin Ridley and Carolyn Cohn

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Financials
Sales 2020 16 192 M 11 380 M 11 380 M
Net income 2020 -641 M -450 M -450 M
Net Debt 2020 3 414 M 2 399 M 2 399 M
P/E ratio 2020 -20,1x
Yield 2020 1,80%
Capitalization 12 753 M 8 946 M 8 963 M
EV / Sales 2020 1,00x
EV / Sales 2021 0,93x
Nbr of Employees 11 000
Free-Float 99,5%
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Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 11
Average target price 11,20 AUD
Last Close Price 8,68 AUD
Spread / Highest target 46,9%
Spread / Average Target 29,1%
Spread / Lowest Target -7,83%
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Managers
NameTitle
Michael Wilkins Executive Chairman
Inder Singh Group Chief Financial Officer
Matt Mansour Chief Information Officer
John M. Green Deputy Chairman
Brian Pomeroy Independent Non-Executive Director
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