Banks and insurers offer riot relief

Yuan Phoon

August 10, 2011

Barclays will increase business overdrafts and is offering loan repayment holidays of up to six months on customers’ existing loans to allow affected businesses time to recover from the immediate impact of the damage caused by the rioting, or to bridge the gap until insurance claims are settled.

The lender’s personal customers with an overdraft can ask for a temporary increase to help with emergency bills and Barclays has said it will also waive overdraft related fees upon request.

Customers without an overdraft can also apply for an emergency overdraft.

The lender confirmed that any damage to properties or vehicles insured through Barclays is covered under by its policies and also said it would help home insurance customers affected by the riots who can no longer live in their home to find temporary accommodation, and arrange for emergency payments to replace essential items where appropriate.

The Co-operative Insurance also confirmed it will cover damage to property covered by its home and motor policies and would cover costs of alternative accommodation for clients who need it.

Zurich encouraged policy holders to review the terms of their cover and said it would be speaking to the government to recoup any claims it paid out as a result of damage caused by the riot.

Steve Cooper, managing director at Barclays business and personal banking solutions, said: “These riots are having a devastating effect on both individuals and local businesses and we are working to help our customers through these difficulties, including providing emergency overdraft facilities and loan repayment holidays of up to six months for business customers.

“It is impossible for many of our customers to operate, even those not directly affected by the fires or looting and we can play a part in taking away some of their worry at this time.”

And Zurich’s UK General Insurance CEO, Stephen Lewis, added: “It is times like this when our expertise comes into its own. Our major incident teams are on the ground already, working with our customers to get their businesses and homes back up and running. That is our priority at these difficult times and it’s what we’re here for.”

The Association of British Insurers has also written to business groups to let business owners know that many commercial insurance policies will cover them for loss of trade as well as damage.

Nick Starling, director of General Insurance and Health at the ABI, said: “We have every sympathy for residents and business owners who have suffered damage to their properties.

“This is a time of enormous stress for them and their insurers will be on hand to answer any questions that they may have.

“Home insurance should cover people for fire, looting or damage caused. Many policies will also cover people for accommodation costs if they can’t stay in their home.

“Most commercial insurance policies will cover businesses for damage to their premises, including the interruption to their business as a result. Some policies will also cover those businesses which are not damaged, but whose trade is affected by the aftermath.

“Insurers are working as quickly as they can to deal with claims. However, access to dangerous buildings which are also crime scenes is a serious issue.

“It is too early for us to have an accurate picture of total costs, especially business interruption costs, but insurers are expecting significant losses, of at least £10s of millions.”

Sign up to our daily email