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Business interruption insurance pay-outs

Business interruption insurance policies provide cover for losses that arise if a business is severely disrupted or is forced to close. The policy will cover losses that arise as a result, and also fixed costs that the business has to continue to pay while shut.

Many businesses that expected their policies to pay out when they were forced to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic found that their insurers did not agree. A sticking point for many was the policy wording, which often excluded diseases unless the disease was named.

FCA test case

To provide some clarity as to whether closures due to COVID-19 were covered, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) took forward a test case. A ruling in the Supreme Court found predominantly in favour of the policyholders, paving the way for compensation payments to be made.

Tax implications

The tax treatment of any receipts received under a business interruption insurance policy will depend on the nature of those receipts, and also whether the associated insurance premiums were deductible.

Deductibility of premiums

As a general rule, insurance premiums will be deductible in calculating the profits of the business if the premiums are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business. If you have taken out business interruption insurance, it is likely that this test is met and you can deduct the cost of the premiums when working out your taxable profits.

Taxability of receipts

HMRC have confirmed that in most situations, where the premium is deductible, any receipts paid out under the policy will be taxable. If you have received a pay-out to compensate you for profits lost as a result of having to close your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should include the receipt as a trading receipt when working out your taxable profits.

If you prepare accounts using the cash basis, the receipt should be taken into account in the period in which you received it. However, if you use the accruals basis, the usual rule is that the receipt should be taken into account in the period to which it relates. This would normally be when the business was closed, but where it was not certain that the payment would be made, it should be reflected in the accounts from the date that this became clear, if later.

Can we help?

If you have received a pay-out under a business interruption insurance policy and are unsure how it should be treated for tax purposes, please get in touch.

February 3, 2021