...Willis issues dust masks to employees

UK insurers have doubled awareness of business continuity planning in the past year, but businessess are ill-prepared for any fall-out from the Iraq war.

That's according to a survey conducted by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The survey reported that 29% of respondents said that their insurers looked at details of their business continuity plans, up from 16% last year.

But, with only 20% of business continuity plans covering war, neither war nor terrorist attacks rated among the top three types of disruption covered by business continuity plans, the survey said.

BCI chief executive John Sharp said that insurers were taking evidence of business continuity planning seriously. "Businesses are finding it harder to get business interruption cover," he said.

However, Sharp said: "More effort has been put into preparing for the firefighters strikes than the war or terrorism."

Unlike many UK businesses, global broker Willis is taking the current threat very seriously.

Group director of communications Nick Jones said the broker recently issued dust masks to its 4,000 employees in order to protect them from potential exposure to dust and debris.

Other new measures include the introduction of incident controllers and emergency response teams at all of Willis' sites. In the event of any crisis, Jones said that these employees would manage the situation, freeing its business continuity managers to focus on ensuring business continuity.

Meanwhile, the FSA this week released its feedback statement to CP142: Operational risk systems and controls, which includes business continuity.

It has made no significant amendments to its proposals, and while confirming that businesses must have continuity plans it does not set rules or standards. The final draft text of CP142 will be released later this year.