June 10, 2020 / 5:30 PM / a month ago

French man chains himself outside insurer's HQ in coronavirus payout protest

Martial Leotard, General Director of Les Ducs de Richelieu society, is seen chained in front of the Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurance, in Liguge near Poitiers, France June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

POITIERS, France (Reuters) - The French owner of a wedding planning business has chained himself up in the parking lot of his insurance company in Poitiers in western France, to protest his insurer’s refusal to compensate him for losses due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Wearing a black face mask and straw hat and sitting by the roadside, Martial Leotard, managing director of Les Ducs de Richelieu company, said his insurer, La Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurance, declined to compensate him as the COVID-19 outbreak was a pandemic and not an epidemic which the insurance policy covers.

Leotard, who has a sign that says “the death of small businesses”, said he could start a hunger strike.

“Since April we are losing revenues”, Leotard told Reuters.

“We are not gonna make it, we are gonna die”, he said.

The insurance company said the businessman did not qualify for compensation under his policy.

“The pandemic risk is not insured in this policy”, Stephane Desert, chief executive of La Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurance, told Reuters. “Our contractual conditions are clear”, he added.

Reporting by Stephane Mahe and Ardee Napolitano; Writing by Matthieu Protard, Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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