Zurich settles two claims from Westminster terror attacks

Metropolitan Police officer on the streets of London

Exclusive: Two victims of the Westminster terror attacks have had compensation paid by Zurich, the insurer of the hire car.

However, other victims injured in the attacks in March 2017 are still awaiting compensation. A suit was brought last year by law firm Slater & Gordon for an undisclosed number of claimants.

Among the claimants that have received compensation is Francisco Lopes, a then 26-year-old Portuguese national who had been left with limited use of his left hand following the attack.

Lopes spoke publicly about the ordeal in the months after the attack, revealing he suffered nightmares, flashbacks and a phobia of going outside to busy places.

He said at the time: “I just can’t escape the horror that happened on that day. When I close my eyes I have flash backs of the point when I turned around and saw the car about to hit me, the sounds of people screaming and the chaos around me.”

The attack happened after Khalid Masood hired a Hyundai Tucson from Enterprise Rent-a-Car which was driven into pedestrians on London Bridge, killing five and injuring around 50 others.

Zurich was the insurer for Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

A spokesperson for the insurer said Lopes’ claim was settled in April and a cheque sent to his solicitor.

The amount was not disclosed by either party.

According to a press release at the time, Lopes required “many hours of physiotherapy to get the full use of his hand back”.

A spokesperson for S&G said Lopes was no longer in the UK and could not be reached.

“Owing to confidentiality we are unable to release details of clients’ cases without their express permission,” the spokesperson added.

Complex case

The case sparked debate over whether insurers who provide cover to hire car companies were themselves liable if the cars were used in terrorist attacks.

Previously, if a terrorist used an uninsured car as a weapon, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme would pick up any claims. As a result of the removal of the exclusion, the MIB would now handle the claim.

For claims arising from terrorist attacks in which a car is insured however, the picture is more complex. Ashton West, CEO of the Motor Insurers Bureau said previously: “While policy wordings vary, many of them either exclude terrorism, or have wordings excluding deliberate acts.”

In the event of such an exclusion being in place, the vehicle would then be uninsured, and any claim would become a claim against the MIB.

West added: “However, under the terms of the articles of association of the MIB, there is an article called Article 75. That sets out rules which say while the claim may be excluded under the policy, you have to deal with the claim and pay the claim under the terms of the articles.”

A spokesperson for Zurich said: “We provided insurance for the vehicle used, and have had a specialist team looking at how that policy is impacted by the terrible events in Westminster last year. It was a tragic event and one which presented complex aspects as far as any insurance is concerned.

“In terms of specifics, I don’t want to comment further on those but we have been helping the victims where we can to get their lives back to normal of course including funding rehabilitation and making interim payments. Where possible, claims have been settled, but due to the nature of some of the injuries some claims will take time to conclude.”

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