...but specialist insurer withdraws cover

Heath Lambert, the only known provider of specialist insurance cover for bird flu, has removed the facility as the threat of the virus spreads across Western Europe.

The broker ceased placing All Risks Mortality cover for poultry farmers within the Lloyd's of London market earlier this month.

The back-track comes amid scientists' warnings that all poultry may have to be housed at a cost of several million pounds.

Bill White, account executive at FSJ, Heath Lambert's specialist London market operation, told Insurance Times this week: "It is true that we are not currently offering this facility as a number of birds have been exposed. We will continue to review the situation."

Simon Burgess of British Insurance said: "This is the kind of knee-jerk reaction that gives insurance a bad name. It can only compound the view that the industry makes hay while the sun is shining and backs down when it starts to rain."