OSLO (Reuters) - The insurer of London's Grenfell Tower, where at least 80 people died in a devastating fire, raised its estimate for property and liability insurance claims to 50 million pounds on Friday.
British police have said the final death toll from the blaze that gutted the 24-storey apartment block on June 14 may not be known until next year and the government has appointed a retired judge to lead a public inquiry into the disaster.
Norway's Protector Forsikring the insurance provider for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which owns the building, also said it had been aware Grenfell Tower had been refurbished during the insurance underwriting process.
It said it had considered this renovation, which was criticized by some residents, as a positive step.
Asked whether the company was aware at the time that the cladding used for the tower block was potentially flammable, Protector Forsikring's chief executive Sverre Bjerkeli told Reuters: "We must let the investigation run its course."
Protector Forsikring said in its second-quarter earnings that it estimated gross claims would total 50 million pounds ($65 million), doubling a previous 25 million pound forecast.
"Figures are preliminary, uncertain and will include both property, liability and other potential related costs," it said.
Protector's previous estimate was for claims of 20 million pounds to cover the building itself, with the remainder covering additional expenses such as alternative housing for residents.
It provided no breakdown of the updated figure, but it has previously said the cost would largely be covered by reinsurance through Germany's Munich Re, which declined to comment on Friday.
Britain's Jardine Lloyd Thompson, which was the insurance broker for Grenfell Tower, has previously said it was working closely to assist its client in the case.
For Protector itself, net property and liability claims relating to the fire are not expected to change from a first estimate of 2.5 million pounds, Bjerkeli said.
Before the fire, Protector Forsikring had rated the borough of Kensington and Chelsea as a good customer for the insurer.
"The client is better than the London average, the London average is better than the UK average and the UK average is better than Scandinavia," Bjerkeli said.
This assessment was based on data the company has gathered during 10,000 visits of properties in Britain, Bjerkeli said, adding that he remained confident in the country's public sector and the firm would maintain its UK growth strategy.
Britain said on Wednesday it was sending in a task force to help run the local authority, which has been struggling to cope with the aftermath of the fire.
Kensington and Chelsea has been criticized by victims' relatives and survivors for its handling of the disaster and its leader quit last week.
Prime Minister Theresa May promised that all residents would be offered good temporary homes in the local area within three weeks, but that deadline passed on Wednesday and while 139 families had been offered homes, only 14 had been accepted and just three had moved in.
Protector Insurance is a Scandinavian company listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Since the beginning of 2004 we have had a fast and profitable growth. The company delivers land based insurance to commercial and public sector, and we distribute our products through insurance brokers. We also sell change of ownership insurance through real estate brokers and lawyers in the Norwegian market, which has an agreement with Protector.
In 2016 the company's written premium was NOK 3.439 billion compared to NOK 2.843 billion in 2015. This gave us a growth of 21%.
Protector has grown rapidly, and we are currently counting almost 300 employees; in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, UK and Finland.
- 2004 Sale of insurances
- 2004 Launches change of ownership insurance
- 2005 Started settlement of claims in-house
- 2006 Strong growth in public sector
- 2007 Protector is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in May
- 2008 26% growth in the private and public sector
- 2009 20% increase in total premium income
- 2010 Passing one billion NOK in premium income
- 2011 Starts selling insurances in Sweden
Starts selling insurances in Denmark
1,5 billion NOK in premium income, 26% growth
- 2013 23% growth
- 2014 28% growth
- 2015 20 % growth