Insurers may appeal 9/11 decision

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The Independent Online

Insurers covering the World Trade Centre were considering yesterday whether to appeal against a surprise decision by a New York jury that the 11 September terrorist attacks constituted two events, potentially doubling the compensation claim.

Zurich Financial said it was considering its options, which include an appeal against the federal court's decision on Monday that because two aeroplanes smashed into the iconic buildings, there were in effect two attacks.

Royal & SunAlliance, another of the insurers on the Twin Towers, said it was too early to assess the financial impact of the jury's decision, which focused on how many claims could be made. There will be another trial after Christmas looking at how much money could be claimed by Larry Silverstein, the property developer who took control of the towers just before they were destroyed.

In the meantime, RSA is also thought to be considering whether to appeal against the verdict. It came after a separate legal case between Mr Silverstein and insurers including Swiss Re and several Lloyd's of London underwriters which found that the assault was one event.

Mr Silverstein had $3.55bn (£1.8bn) of insurance on the World Trade Centre. The jury's decision this week that potentially doubles the award relates to only $1.1bn of that sum, with the rest covered by the Swiss Re consortium, or other insurers which have agreed separate settlements. The real estate magnate could therefore be looking at a total payout of about $4.65bn.

Analysts said the verdict would not have a serious impact on the financial strength of most of the insurers affected. Christian Dinesen, of Merrill Lynch, said: "We think Allianz, Royal & SunAlliance and Zurich are adequately reserved for this event, although the amounts reported are more important for Royal & Sun at $128m than Allianz at $78m and Zurich at $46m."

The German insurer Allianz and St Paul Travelers also covered the building.