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Terrorism cover could change

17 Jun 2017

ANALYSIS: the nature and effects of recent terrorist attacks are broadening the industry's understanding of terrorism insurance, and could result in a permanent shift away from policies based on damage to property.

Traditionally, terrorism policies have tended to kick in when there is damage to the property of the insured. But the real damage caused by the 'lone wolf'-style tactics was loss of life, injuries and significant disruption to local businesses. So-called 'denial of access' cover, for example, tends still to be linked to property damage.

Insurers must therefore focus on how business interruption cover is being extended beyond the realm of property damage. The development of contingent business interruption cover in response to recent earthquakes and floods that have affected global supply chains is a good example of an alternative approach, although even here there has to be an element of damage to the supplier of a business, if not to the business itself.

We are seeing the growth of business interruption products such as those available in the cyber market in relation to data breaches that lead to loss of profits and other intangibles. However, these products are still in the relatively early stages and need further development.

In the past, terrorists used bombs and sophisticated weapons and acted together. As a result, insurers continue to view terrorism risk as the risks of an organised plot or threat for doing damage to property. The result is a recognised 'insurance gap' for business interruption arising for non-property damage.

The recent examples show how substantial that gap could be. The Insurance Insider has estimated the value of Ariana Grande's claim for cancelled tour dates in London and mainland Europe following the Manchester Arena bombing at £300,000. Take That, who had to cancel three shows due to take place at the Manchester Arena that same week, could receive between £500,000 and £1 million to cover the cost of rescheduling the shows, according to the same report. Although property damage to the arena itself is likely, the cost of business interruption - particularly due to the closure of Manchester Victoria train station for a week - will ultimately be far more significant.

The question now is how quickly insurers might be able to adapt to these new realities.

 

 - Nick Bradley - insurance law expert at Pinsent Masons

 

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