Lloyd's extends offer deadline

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The Independent Online
THE authorities at the Lloyd's of London insurance market have extended the deadline of a pounds 900m settlement offer to 22,921 underwriting members facing financial ruin by 14 days to 14 February.

The move follows the discovery of a pounds 20m error in the settlement proposals just before Christmas.

Lloyd's chairman, David Rowland, said yesterday that officials had worked over Christmas to produce corrected documentation. He said the errors, which were 'regrettable', arose because of the miscalculation of offers to members with claims for wrongful closure of syndicate accounts.

Mr Rowland stressed that there was 'no question of increasing the offer', which many members feel is inadequate against the background of pounds 5.5bn losses that have hit them in the past three years.

He indicated that the financial resources of the market would allow Lloyd's to accept pounds 10.5bn of business this year. This figure includes pounds 1.6bn worth of financial support provided by companies that have been admitted as investors for the first time. Mr Rowland said the involvement of the companies was equivalent to 3,000 members of Lloyd's joining the market.

As he announced the improved financial position of the market, caretaker managers at the troubled Gooda Walker agency showed that losses on insurance syndicates into which thousands of members were grouped had climbed from pounds 740m to pounds 835m in the past year. The interim report prepared by the managers says that it is unknown whether enough members will support the pounds 900m settlement plan. If it is supported, other claims may fall on Gooda Walker syndicates since they insured companies that are subscribing to the settlement. Further claims could arise through reinsurance liabilities on the settlement. 'This obviously is of great concern,' the managers said.