Last week, a couple of blogs noted that a recent commercial liability insurance renewal policy issued through a Lloyd’s of London underwriter contained a liability exclusion clause about electromagnetic fields.
The clause excludes any compensation for claims:
“directly or indirectly arising out of, resulting from or contributed to by electromagnetic fields, electro-magnetic radiation, electromagnetism, radio waves or noise.”
It is important that “radio waves” are explicitly included as they, specifically the microwave zone, are what enable wireless communications devices like cell phones, wi-fi, cordless phones etc.
After the policy holder made an inquiry seeking clarification about the exclusion language, CFC Underwriting LTD in London, the UK agent for Lloyd’s, sent the following:
“The Electromagnetic Fields Exclusion (Exclusion 32) is a General Insurance Exclusion and is applied across the market as standard. The purpose of the exclusion is to exclude cover for illnesses caused by continuous long-term non-ionising radiation exposure i.e. through mobile phone usage.”
Sharon Noble, Director of the Coalition to Stop Smart Meter Harm in British Columbia (Canada) brought the clause and CFC’s response to public attention.
My interpretation of this revealing statement is that CFC Underwriting, and perhaps all of “the market” has realized that the time has come to hedge against a future surge in “illnesses caused by continuous long-term non-ionising radiation exposure i.e. through mobile phone usage.” Why else would they refuse coverage “across the market as standard.”?
“Unfortunately, Lloyd’s doesn’t have a spokesperson who can talk about this so we’re going to have to decline.”
Lloyd’s of London describes itself as “the world’s specialist insurance market,” and they’ve insured and paid on a variety of unusual risks and catastrophic claims. Unlike many other insurance brands, Lloyd’s is not a company; it’s “a market where our members join together as syndicates to insure risks.” What they insure falls into seven broad categories: casualty, property, marine, energy, motor, aviation and reinsurance.
Reinsurance is the key here, as, among other things, it serves “to protect an insurer against very large claims.” Think tobacco, asbestos and climate change. And microwave radiation apparently, even though regulatory and health agencies around the world refuse to accept RF exposure as causing illness.
I was seriously intrigued at all of this and emailed an inquiry to the Lloyd’s press center stating that I wanted some more details about the exclusion. I told them that as I primarily produce radio, I’d want to capture the conversation on tape, but would also be happy to talk with someone off tape, but on the record.
Two hours later, I received a response from a woman at Prosek Partners, “a communications consultancy that delivers an unexpected level of passion, creativity and marketing savvy,” which apparently handles such issues for Lloyd’s. She wanted to know more about what exactly I was seeking and asked if I would “mind expanding on your request a bit?” so she could best determine how to help me. I obliged, sending back “Basically I’m interested in the 5 Ws, but why especially. I’d also like to how widely the exclusion is being replicated in Lloyd’s policies. Is there any sense internally at Lloyd’s about this being a first step that is likely to be copied industry wide? Was there any conversation pre/post release of the exclusion language with any wireless industry businesses?”
This afternoon (she apologized for the 24 hour ‘delay’) she wrote back to tell me “Unfortunately, Lloyd’s doesn’t have a spokesperson who can talk about this so we’re going to have to decline.”
Now I’m used to rejection as a reporter, but I couldn’t quite believe this and told her so in my reply, mentioning that their refusal to talk about the policy change would possibly “draw attention away from more important aspects of the story.”
The takeaway here is that an underwriter for Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance market place, has “across the market” refused to provide coverage for any claims arising from exposure to cell phones, wi-fi or any other source of electromagnetic frequency radiation. Lloyd’s has then refused to answer a media inquiry about why, claiming that there is no one “who can.” Hmmm…