No millennium insurance
British insurers will not cover damage caused by the year 2000 bug
November 13, 1997: 10:36 a.m. ET
LONDON (Reuters) - The UK's leading insurance industry body said on Thursday its members will not pick up the bills of companies which fail to adequately prepare their computer systems for the millennium bug.
"No sensible company is expecting its insurers to pay for this necessary work any more than they would expect insurers to pay for IT developments generally," Marc Boleat, director general of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said in a statement.
Computer and microchip-controlled systems are vulnerable to the changeover from 1999 to 2000 because many programs were written with only two digits for the year.
Huge efforts are being made by many companies to ensure that computer programs recognize year 2000 and do not revert to 1900 - or fail to work at all. However, fears have been growing among insurers and reinsurers that some companies believe their insurance policies will cover millennium bug-related events.
"Insurers cannot meet the consequences of companies not modifying their systems to take account of the known consequences of a known event," Boleat said.
The ABI is working with the UK Department of Trade and Industry on a campaign to tell businesses how to deal with the millennium bug.
"For most companies, the end of 1998 is probably the deadline for essential work," the ABI said. The association has drawn up suggested millennium risk exclusion clauses for its members to use in policies, but a spokesman told Reuters these do not change the fact that year 2000 risks are generally not covered by existing insurance.
"Commercial insurance is about covering the unexpected and not the inevitable," said spokesman Malcolm Tarling. "Millennium risks were never covered."
The ABI said insurers may be prepared to offer some coverage against millennium-related risks, but this coverage will depend on policyholders taking action to ensure their business systems, as well as those of their suppliers and customers, are ready to deal with the millennium.
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