COUNTDOWN TO WAR: Pounds 24,000 PRICE OF A HERO'S LIFE; Storm as Gulf Squaddies Refused Insurance

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BRAVE squaddies facing war with Iraq have been told their lives are worth no more than pounds 24,000.

That is the maximum their families will get from the Government if they die in action.

Many Army privates will get less - and soldiers trying to boost that with their own life cover have been snubbed by Britain's insurers.

Tory pensions spokesman Julian Brazier said: "This is a disgrace."

The Canterbury MP, a former TA captain, added: "The Government has a duty to look after those who fight for their country. Death benefits should be more generous."

Insurance industry giants such as Norwich Union, Legal & General, Prudential and Standard Life regard soldiers bound for the Gulf "too risky" for life assurance.

Scottish Provident, Scottish Equitable, Liverpool Victoria and Friends Provident will also turn them down.

The ban applies to 26,000 troops and reservists already served with their call-up papers. Their loved ones will only be able to claim death-in-service benefit of one-and-a-half times salary.

So with front-line troops earning up to pounds 16,111 the most they can get is just over pounds 24,000. …