Security guard cover soars to £3,000 a week

The mammoth task of rebuilding shattered Iraq is leading to a boom in insurance opportunities as brokers report a "steady stream" of western companies needing to protect staff, equipment and contracts.

Insurance for security guards has soared to typically £3,000 per person per week, as the result of dangers posed by criminal gangs, trigger-happy US troops and the lawless state of some towns. In addition, contractors have difficulty in moving huge amounts of specialised construction equipment around Iraq.

US civil engineering firm Bechtel, one of the lead contractors in the rebuilding task, recently told hopeful sub-contractors that they would have to arrange their own insurance cover, which could prove costly.

Anne Williams, director of facilities (personal accident) for the Heath Lambert Group said the going rate for personal accident cover in Iraq varied according to region, but had jumped by 50% immediately after hostilities were officially said to have ceased.

She said the cost of personal accident cover ranged from 0.5% of sum insured per week for clerical workers to 1% for field staff, with security staff facing even higher rates of up to 2% of the sum insured, particularly if they are required to carry weapons.

According to Williams, a typical policy for a security officer worth £150,000 would require weekly payments of £3,000 per week and would not include kidnap and ransom cover.

But despite the costs, Williams said there was no shortage of interest from firms hoping to help rebuild Iraq.

"We are receiving a steady stream of inquiries for the likes of personal accident cover," she said. "Most of our current and recent inquiries are from companies involved in oil pipelines, construction and telecommunications, which are sending staff out to carry out assessments - they are generally short trips."