Names fury as Lloyd's sends further bills*

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The Independent Online
Thousands of Lloyd's names who gave their homes and up to pounds 100,000 in what they hoped would be a final settlement of insurance debts are to be sent bills demanding more.

The insurance market has confirmed that deals reached with up to 30,000 members may not be as "final" as they had hoped. Under an arrangement drawn up last year to end the bitter rows over Lloyd's pounds 11bn losses, members who signed a "Special Offer Document" were given the chance to rid themselves of huge debts for ever.

However, Lloyd's reserved the right to send out further bills after 30 September if foreign currency, life assurance policies, letters of credit or securities offered against debts failed to realise the amount owed by the member.

It now appears that this has happened in many cases, although Lloyd's said this week that it had no idea exactly how many people would be involved.

Nevertheless, senior officials are expecting a furious backlash. Following inquiries by The Independent on Wednesday, all underwriting agents were warned of the media attention to follow in an internal memo from Nick Doak, Lloyd's public relations manager.

He wrote: "Knowing the Indy, this will be run 'lurid' with a headline such as 'Names fury as Lloyd's sends further bills' and there will be a quote from, inter alia, Christopher Stockwell."

Mr Stockwell, chairman of the Lloyd's Names Association, said last night: "We have been fearing a further recalculation of the numbers for several weeks.

"We do not agree with the reasons that have been given to date for more demands for payment, and we fear the new figures will increase confusion among Names and confirm their worries that the Lloyd's saga is not yet over.

"Lloyd's have been trying to control public relations over their reconstruction plan, with some success, for months. The reality is that it is not going according to plan. Thousands of Names have yet to receive cheques from Lloyd's and hundreds of the hardest hit have yet to see any evidence that Lloyd's will honour its pledges."

Lloyd's, which has failed to limit damage to its image despite numerous attempts at news manipulation, still intends to set the agenda.

In his memo, Mr Doak continued: "... we had planned to roll this story out in advance and brief everyone involved. We still intend to try and restore control, but the initiative has been lost."

*With thanks for the idea to Nick Doak, Lloyd's PR manager