Car insurance aftershock: Victim of City bombing faced battle over damage claim

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THE Bishopsgate bomb blast continues to haunt one victim who has suffered both physically and financially.

His plight is a warning for everyone to check the terms of their motor insurance policy before it is too late.

On 24 April last year Stephen Badcock, who is in the building trade, was reinforcing the windows of an office in the City of London after a bomb blast some months earlier.

He and his workmates had just started their coffee break when he saw a huge fireball in the street outside. Then there was an almighty bang and everything went dark.

Mr Badcock was one of the victims of the Bishopsgate bomb. He was seriously injured in the blast.

His car, a Ford Sierra, which was parked outside the building, was also badly damaged.

Mr Badcock said: 'The car was immaculate before the bomb. But the front windscreen was shattered and the quarter lights and back windscreen were blown out.

'The bodywork looked as though a football team had run across it. All the glass in the building had come down on top of the car.'

Mr Badcock thought that the car was the least of his problems. He was insured for third party, fire and theft with Halifax Insurance ( which has no connection with the Halifax Building Society).

The policy clearly states that damage caused by fire, self ignition, or explosion is covered. There is no exclusion for terrorist attacks.

He got an estimate for the repair of the car from a garage and submitted it with his claim form to Halifax. The garage estimated that the labour cost for repairing the car would be pounds 1,165, paint and materials would cost pounds 245, plus the parts, which included a new roof panel and windows. But Halifax rejected Mr Badcock's claim outright. The company said that 'the circumstances of this incident lead to the situation where, unfortunately, the vehicle damage is not covered under the terms of the policy.'

Victim Support, the organisation which assists victims of crime and other distressing events, took up Mr Badcock's insurance claim for him. Marion Bradford, a spokesman for Victim Support, said: 'I got advice from the Department of Trade and the Association of British Insurers about this case and as a result I resubmitted the claim to Halifax on Mr Badcock's behalf'.

It brought another immediate rejection. According to Halifax the vehicle was damaged by various items of debris from numerous buildings and, under the terms of a third party, fire and theft policy, the damage was not covered.

Mr Badcock has had to to replace the windows at his own cost to make the car driveable. But the bodywork is still full of holes and small dents.

He said: 'The water will get in and, in no time at all, it will fall apart with rust. The car cost me pounds 3,500 two years ago but I could not sell it in this state.

'I will just have to run it into the ground. I cannot afford another car.'

As soon as we spoke to Halifax Insurance they did an immediate U-turn. Paul Dodds, a spokesman for the company, said: 'The policy does not specifically include or exclude acts of terrorism and it does include fire, self ignition, lightning or explosion.

'As a caring insurer we recognise Mr Badcock's situation and will treat the claim for damage to the vehicle as being covered by the policy'.

There is no government compensation for cars damaged by terrorist bombs. Neil Hamilton, the Parliamentary Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry, said that 'cover for this risk is available at no extra cost within most normal car insurance policies'.

But do check the terms of your motor insurance policy, particularly the exclusions.

(Photograph omitted)