Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Now Santa gets the insurance treatment

There are times when I despair with my industry. Togther with their cohorts the health and safety police, our insurance underwriters have a significant impact on the day to day running of business - and on the day to day running of our own individual lives.

So, it probably should come as no surprise to hear that the Health & Safety/Insurance alliance has now targetted Father Christmas! This report was from today's Daily Telegraph:

They have told one Santa that he must be strapped into a full body harness in case he falls out of his sleigh as it is towed by a Land Rover at the gentle speed of five miles an hour.

Meanwhile, another has been forced to abandon his sleigh altogether, and travel on a rather less magical bus.

Members of the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary Club were told that they would have to raise a four-figure sum to cover the insurance costs of a visit by Father Christmas, until he agreed to belt up.

Barry Wheeler, the president of the West Midlands club, said: "Every year we have made sure Santa gets to go through the town and wave to the children. It just seemed ridiculous, especially because he doesn't actually ride on the sleigh that often.

"He would be more likely to injure himself getting in and out of the sleigh than actually falling out of it."

One of the members of the club, which has been organising visits by Father Christmas for the past 20 years, has now taken the sleigh to be fitted with the harness. This means the club saved £200 on its insurance policy and could still go ahead with the event.

However, members said the tough rules took "the magic out of Christmas".

"We're going to try to make the belt as discreet as possible," said Mr Wheeler. "The sleigh ride through the towns starts in December and starts Christmas off for so many people. It would have been such a shame to see it cancelled."

Kelly Ostler, from the Association of British Insurers which represents about 400 UK insurance companies, said: "This is as much about protecting Santa from other drivers as protecting him from the speed of his own sleigh."

But Father Christmas has not been so lucky in the Northumbrian town of Alnwick. There, a 30-year tradition of visits to the town by Santa and his sleigh have been brought to an abrupt halt by a similar insurance wrangle.

As usual, the organisers - Alnwick Lions Club - planned to mount the sleigh on a district council trailer. But this year the council has ruled that using the trailer would be too dangerous because Santa is not a council employee, so he would not be covered by its insurance.

Instead, he has had to cancel the tour and will have to ride into town by bus to switch on the Christmas lights. Graham Luke, of the Alnwick Lions, told the Northumberland Gazette newspaper: "It is health and safety. We have become Americanised - that's the best way of putting it.

"It is very frustrating because it is a tradition that has been going on for so long."

An Alnwick district council spokesman said: "We always try to help with community projects, but regrettably, this is out of our hands."

Mind how you go now.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Giving the insurance industry a bad name? Bah humbug!!

Reading the Daily Mail this morning, I nearly choked on my coffee!

What on earth is the world coming to?

Apparently, Panto performers have been banned from throwing sweets into the crowd - because the health and safety police are scared of being sued!

Apparently, over sensitive theatre bosses imposed the order after two pensioners complained about being hit by bonbons during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk last year. The director then rang his public liability insurers and received some worrying news.

"They advised us that we probably wouldn't be covered in the event of someone getting hurt," said Mr Lynch, from the Pavilion Theatre in Gorleston, Norfolk.

"They suggested throwing a sweet at someone would be viewed as an act of negligence rather than a simple accident, and we would therefore be liable to pay compensation."

"We have to make sure we do not open ourselves to being sued."

Actors in this year's production of Babes in the Wood and Robin Hood will now have to drop sweets off the edge of the stage for children to pick up.

Mr Lynch said he had checked with other theatres, and found that many were also ending the practice.

This is not the first time the theatre has suffered from restrictive health and safety measures. Last month, Peter Pan was banned from flying in a musical put on by a local youth theatre group.

Roof brackets were needed to support Peter's wires and they could not be installed without the theatre undergoing a full structural survey.

You know sometimes, this industry that I love, really leaves me scratching my head!

Mind how you go now.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Insurance claim is hisss-tory!!

Taiwan police have arrested a man who allegedly used a snake bite in an insurance fraud scheme, a newspaper said Saturday. The man, a Taipei construction worker identified only as Chien, 53, claimed he was bitten by a snake in November 2006 at the home of a friend who raised snakes.

Chien was rushed to hospital by his friend and had one finger amputated.

Several months ago, Chien approached his insurance company to claim 25 million Taiwan dollars (760,000 US dollars) insurance for bodily injury.

The insurance company studied Chien's medical records and became suspicious on finding that there was only one bite mark on Chien's hand, yet tests showed there were three types of snake venom in his blood.

Another peculiarity was that after Chien was bitten, he and the friend waited three hours before rushing Chien to a hospital.

The insurance company believed Chien let one snake bite him and injected the venom of two other snakes into his hand, so that the "snake bite" would be serious enough to require his hand or arm to be amputated, so he could file a claim on an insurance policy for bodily injury.

After investigating, the insurance company alerted police, who are now set to prosecute Chien for insurance fraud.

You see, you really need to get up early in the morning to get one over the insurance industry!