This morning's Budget Committee saw the return of the insurers for a rematch over their response to the 2011 Summer Riots. The committee recently produced a set of recommendations intended to improve the response to such incidents, and the Association of British Insurers disagreed with some of them.
First we heard from Stephen Webb of the Home Office. They had identified shortcomings in the ancient Riot (Damages) Act, and are planning a medium term review of this legislation. In particular the failure to include motor vehicles - which didn't exist when the Act was passed - and consequential losses for business, would be reviewed. The application forms will also be improved and tested for Plain English.
Then the insurers arrived for what promised to be a scrap but turned out to be a damp squib.
The ABI welcomed a call for clearer guidance for claimants and plan to produce a document based on their successful flooding guidance. They will be working with local councils and some of the claimants, but it is unlikely that the Riot Damages Act will be overhauled in time for their publication, so the guidance will have to be reviewed and updated in future.
Disappointingly, there will be no advice on suitable insurance products. A shocking number of claimants from 2011 found themselves uninsured so some clarity about products is needed. Claire Kober, the rather impressive leader of Haringey Council, pointed to some businesses which were difficult to value. A local jeweller experienced fluctuating stock value as the price of precious metals changed. Gold prices had soared, leaving the stock significantly under insured when the riots took place.
In producing the new guidelines, the insurers would also consult the Cabinet Office.
The last word went to Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse. He told us that disasters would continue to affect London but that it was difficult to predict their nature - be it floods, terrorist acts, or riots. A degree of flexibility and a willingness to work with the private sector and local communities will always be essential in such a large and diverse city.