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ABI: Widespread Insured Losses to Result from London Riots

Source: Business Insurance

Posted on 09 Aug 2011

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The insurance loss from widespread rioting and looting across London since the weekend could run into “tens of millions of pounds,” according to the Assn. of British Insurers.

A spokeswoman for the London-based ABI said it still was too early to assess the full insurance impact of the events, but that the likely insurance cost would be in the tens of millions.

“Most commercial insurance policies will cover businesses for damage to their premises, including the interruption to their business as a result,” Nick Starling, director of general insurance and health at the ABI, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Some policies will also cover those businesses which are not damaged but whose trade is affected by the aftermath,” he said.

The London-based British Assn. of Insurance Brokers also said that most commercial insurance policies should cover property damage and business interruption.

Loss adjuster Crawford & Co. said loss adjusters already were assessing the damage in several of the affected areas.

Businesses must lodge their claims quickly to avoid rejection, according to Stuart White, a partner at London-based law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain.

Typically, he said, most insurers require claims to be filed within seven days of the event. Under the terms of U.K.’s 1886 Riot (Damages) Act, insurers can file a claim in the policyholder’s name against the police, he said. Such claims must be filed within 14 days of an event.

Businesses without property insurance also can file a claim against the police under the Riot (Damages) Act, but such claims would be for property damage only and would not cover business interruption losses.

The rioting began on Saturday evening in the Tottenham area of North London after violence broke out after a peaceful protest at the site of a fatal shooting by police last week of a local man.

By Monday evening, rioting and looting had spread to several other districts of London as well as the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham.

At least 450 people have been arrested. Prime Minister David Cameron returned Tuesday from his summer vacation to hold an emergency response meeting, and Parliament has been recalled from its summer recess to assemble on Thursday.

London Mayor Boris Johnson also has returned from his vacation.

Several sporting events, including a friendly soccer match between England and the Netherlands on Wednesday, have been called off on the advice of the police.