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July 2005 Archives

July 14, 2005

How to defend against "nice" guys?

Dear Friend,

It has been difficult for we UK residents to confront the fact that the people who carried out last week’s terrible bombings were born and bred here.

One newspaper even reproduced one of the bomber’s birth certificates on its front cover as if to say “we didn’t believe British people were capable of this — but here is the grisly, shocking proof”.

The media are full of stories of the three Yorkshire lads — one who was at college, one had worked in a school and the youngest, who was only 18 years old, was apparently “a bit of a dork”. Neighbours and families speak of these characters’ abject normality — they were “nice guys”.

What’s for sure is that they were “nice” enough not to be under any suspicion by the police or the secret services. When they donned their rucksacks and said their farewells at Kings Cross station, no alarm was raised — they were just a group of nice guys on a day trip to London , perhaps on their way to a cricket match or to visit a museum.

Of course, the reality was very different and serves as a reminder, if any be needed, of the extreme complexity of the “War against Terror” and the value of terrorism insurance in advanced liberal economies.

In the UK the State is the reinsurer of last resort and although it is an extra layer of bureaucracy, the Pool Re scheme gives UK businesses a certain amount of comfort that the Government will step in if the market fails.

What do you feel about the role of the State in terrorism insurance?

July 8, 2005

London Calling

It’s been a week full of emotion for Londoners.

Last Saturday 150,000 people went to a huge pop concert in Hyde Park to try and end world poverty — and most of the TV-owning world tuned in to watch the popular icons of the 20th century strut their stuff.

On Monday global dignitaries started arriving for the G8 summit up in Scotland.

On Wednesday lunchtime, I walked the 100 metres to Trafalgar Square to have a look at the impromptu event being put on to celebrate London’s unexpected success in winning the right to host the 2012 Olympics. The mood was optimistic and forward-looking — the square was packed with fresh-faced schoolchildren of all creeds and colours.

That evening I went to the British Insurance Awards — a glittering event that filled the Royal Albert Hall with 1,800 captains of our industry, all dressed to the nines and in euphoric mood.

The awards were hosted by a guy called Jeremy Paxman, one of the BBC’s most heavyweight news anchormen. We joked around the office that because of the nature of his day job Mr Paxman famously had a clause in his contract stating that if a “global news event” were to occur, he would have to leave for the studios at a moment’s notice. Happily Mr Paxman made it through the evening and did a great job of keeping us all entertained.

But all yesterday he was hard at work.

A Londoner’s natural reaction when there is trouble on the Underground rail network is to shrug his shoulders and seek alternative routes into town — and that’s what we all did.

And that’s what we’ll continue to do until things get back to normal. Many thanks to all of you who sent messages of support and concern — all employees of Incisive Media are accounted for — and today we’re all back hard at work.

The reinsurance implications of yesterday’s outrage look like they are going to be very minor — but since the first blast occurred right in the heart of London’s (re)insurance district, we can only fear that some of our colleagues in the business might have been on that fateful train. We hope and pray otherwise.

I said it had been an eventful seven days — and one more amazing event that has been going on over the week has been the World War Two Living Museum. Here young people have been able to come into town, see people dressed in 1940s clothes and uniforms, eat wartime food and meet and talk with War Veterans. The event is touching and poignant and has been a great success.

The veterans have a dignified sense of urgency and want to pass on the benefit of their real-life experience to a younger generation before they are too old to do so and the only reference is in history text books. And this week more than any other Londoners will have felt part of history. But sadly for many youngsters, they can now at least begin to comprehend what their great grandparents’ generation must have gone through over 60 years ago.

Editor's blog, photo of Mark Geoghegan

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