by Owen Bellwood

A new advocacy group has been established in the US to lobby insurance companies that are refusing to pay claims from small bars and restaurants that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nate Whitehouse, co-founder of Drifter Spirits, and bar operator Maxwell Britten were inspired to create advocacy group Thirst after reading widespread reports of insurance companies denying claims from small restaurants and bars across the US. In response, Thirst will utilise federal advocacy, plaintiff’s lawsuits, state pressure and public opinion to push insurers to pay out as many claims as possible.

Thirst has a network of more than 50 people across eight states that have joined together to support the on-trade.

The group plans to launch a coordinated effort that will see legal experts and legislators meet with restaurant and bar owners to pressure insurance companies to offer greater support for the industry.

Whitehouse said: “Insurers denying Covid claims are sitting on US$847 billion in reserves. If they were to pay out every last claim to small restaurants and bars, it would cost them US$380 billion according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“We pair owners with legislators in their home districts with jurisdiction over insurance and help them tell their stories alongside specific actionable policy recommendations. Because in the end, states are going to have to force insurance companies to be accountable.”

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