A Freedom of Informaton Request by Post has learnt that the insurers were among the lead risk carriers for either employers’ or public liability for the broadcaster between 1971 and 2006.
According to the children’s charity NSPCC and a public police report, Giving Victims a Voice, published earlier in the year, reported offences involving Savile at the BBC date from 1959 until 2006, when the final episode of Top of the Pops was recorded. The peak in alleged offences was between 1966 and 1976. The report said approximately 600 people have come forward to provide information since the beginning of police investigation Operation Yewtree, with about 450 cases referring to Savile.
Savile was knighted in 1990 and died in October 2011 aged 84. Operation Yewtree was launched in response to the broadcast of ITV’s Exposure programme on 4 October 2012, which detailed five women’s
accounts of being sexually abused by the late Savile in relation to the filming of BBC programmes. All said they had been abused during the 1970s, with two incidents relating to Duncroft School in Staines and three occurring on BBC premises.
It has been confirmed that Commercial Union Assurance Company [now Aviva] provided the BBC with PL insurance for 24 years. The insurer covered 55% of the broadcaster’s PL cover from 1971 to 1981 up to a limit of £1m. Its cover then changed to 49% of £5m for 1982 and 1984, before becoming 40% of £5m between 1985 and 1988. Century Insurance, Royal Insurance Group, Sun Allianz & London Insurance Group and Phoenix Insurance Group – all now part of RSA – also took a share in the PL cover for 16 years between 1971 and 1988 – with each firm taking between 10% and 25% of the cover. Cover started at £1m between 1971 and 1981 and then rose to £5m.
QBE also provided PL cover in the 1980s, while Chubb was the lead insurer from 1996 to 2009. Lloyd’s syndicates and other unnamed London market firms provided PL excess cover of between £1m and £20m for the BBC from 1963 to 1970.
For 22 of the 40 years of Savile’s employment, the EL insurer was National Employers’ Mutual General Insurance Association, now Allianz, which was on cover for 100% of an unlimited policy until 1986. In 1989 Commercial Union then took a 40% share in this policy, and from 1996 until 2009 Chubb became the lead insurer, with a policy limit of £15m.
Which policy may pay out in these cases is unclear and may depend on policy wordings. An insurance source quoted: “It is likely to be PL as Savile is the employee.” And a legal source added: “PL insurance may cover this, as it is visitors who have been injured.” However, they added the policy may be disputed if the insurers in question are able to argue the BBC was aware of the issue and did nothing to prevent it.
Alan Collins, specialist child abuse solicitor at Pannone Solicitors, representing 43 alleged victims, added: “These are all sexual abuse allegations and based on vicarious liability. The employer is responsible for the sins of the employee, so it is likely to come under EL cover. Generally speaking, depending on the level and period of abuse, these cases usually come out in the £10 000 to £70 000 range.”
More information about Alan Collins can be found here.
This comes as Nat West has been accused of “robbing” Savile victims after the bank, which is the trustee of Savile’s estate, spent more than £1m earmarked as compensation for individuals sexually abused by the disgraced television presenter. Assets for the £4.3m estate were put on hold in the face of compensation claims, but during the subsequent six months its value has dropped to a reported figure of £3m, believed to be because of costs incurred by the estate.