THE MANCHESTER BOMBING: Insurers' Bill May Top Pounds 200m and Push Up `Pool' Premiums
Cicutti, Nic, The Independent (London, England)
Insurers will face claims of up to pounds 200m to help pay for the damage inflicted by the bomb blast, a leading insurance assessor claimed yesterday.
Up to one-third of shops and offices affected by the explosion may receive only limited compensation because they did not have the insurance cover needed in the event of terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, businesses throughout Britain may be called on to pay a levy of at least pounds 100m in extra insurance premiums to Pool Re, the Government-backed re-insurer set up in the aftermath of the 1992 Baltic Exchange bombing in the City of London.
Alan James, associate director of Harris Claims Group, a firm of assessors, said: "The effect could be absolutely devastating. It could be disastrous for the small-business community. It may indeed force some out of business."
Some of those worst affected by damage and loss of business may never re-open, while hundreds of jobs may be lost as insurers demand that even shopkeepers with cover "mitigate their losses".
Details of the heavy costs to be borne by Britain's businesses came as police investigators and insurance assessors both began their separate tasks of sifting through the rubble of Saturday's explosion near the Arndale Centre, Manchester's shopping mall.
More than 400 businesses could be affected in a half-mile radius of the city centre, while many more outside that area suffered smashed windows and damaged fittings.
Alan Harris, chief executive of Harris Claims Group, said 20 of his staff were now in Manchester to assess the damage. "It is hard to say exactly how much the cost will come to, but it may amount to pounds 100m for rebuilding costs and for fixtures and fittings," he said. "Business interruption may come to that amount again.
"You have to remember that a lot of shops, hotels, clubs and restaurants had been geared up for the Euro 96 games at Old Trafford."
Unlike the most recent large blast, at Docklands in London, where damage is being estimated at pounds 150m, this time it is mainly shops that have been affected. …