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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Fireworks night 'could be damp squib'
London Millennium celebration fireworks
Many celebrations could hit the rocks this year
Hundreds of Guy Fawkes night firework displays could be cancelled as organisers face problems obtaining public liability insurance, according to a major broker.

Torribles, which organised insurance for about 5,000 displays last year, said it had been unable to organise any cover at all this year.

It says the rise of the "no win, no fee" culture has made insurers nervous that more members of the public will launch damages claims in the event of injury.

Although public liability insurance is not compulsory for organisers of fireworks displays, the broker says the possibility of injury claims has in many cases made it a necessity.

'Extreme caution'

Managing director Matthew Torrible said: ''Five years ago a rugby club, for example, wouldn't have considered public liability insurance.

''But underwriters have dramatically increased their concern arising from very litigious members of the public.

"We've seen a fundamental increase since the introduction of the no win, no fee system, which removes the risk for people undertaking claims for liability.''


We won't be having a Guy Fawkes celebration - we have been unable to get insurance cover

Norfolk villager Helen Howes

Mr Torrible said that there had been only a few claims arising from the 5,000 events for which his firm organised cover last year.

But underwriters were being ''forced into a position of extreme caution because they can see the losses occurring around them''.

One event that has been cancelled is a display in Westfield, Norfolk.

Last year, 70 people attended the village's bonfire night celebrations, but organisers have not been able to arrange insurance cover this year.

In Suffolk, Gareth Mutimer, of Thunder Burst Fireworks, who organises up to a dozen charity displays, says premiums had risen by 2,000% despite an excellent safety record.

"I've been ringing round for cover. One insurance company has given me a quote of about 500. Last year it was around 25 per display. The others just write you off - they do not want to know," he said.

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 ON THIS STORY
Torribles insurance broker director Matthew Torrible
"Underwriters have dramatically increased their concern arising from very litigious members of the public"
See also:

16 Sep 02 | England
23 Sep 02 | Scotland
22 Aug 01 | Business
08 Feb 01 | Business
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