Town Council Insurance Bill Skyrockets

In the Downham Market Town Council meeting on 29th July 2022, the clerk mentioned that there are ten (10) active claims against the council’s insurance. Graham Spark, the new town clerk, estimated that the settlement value of these ten claims totals around £30,000.

This information was brought up during a discussion around approving the clerk to move ahead with entering into the next year’s insurance contract. Last year the insurance premium was £8.6k, when the budget for this year was set a sum of £9k was set aside for the renewal. This year the council is liable for an insurance premium of £17.3k, which is double the cost to the Downham Market precept (tax) payer.

The reason for this massive increase in insurance premium was cited to be these 10 active claims. Though no details of these claims were detailed in the meeting, the current town mayor, Cllr Pyatt, indicated that we rate payers are “picking up past bills” – presumably a suggestion that these claims are related to issues since before he became mayor.

A freedom of information request reveals the nature of each of the open claims and their date. Further specific information about each was not forthcoming as this may “prejudice any cases” still ongoing.

Claim TypeDateStatus
Accident28/01/2020Open
Employment27/08/2020Open
Financial24/08/2020Open
Public Liability29/10/2020Open
Property-Vandalism22/08/2020Closed
Public Liability*26/03/2021Open
Public Liability27/08/2021Open
Employment14/10/2021Open
Financial18/10/2021Open
Public Liability21/06/2022Open

Given that half of those cases date back to 2020, it’s not clear why they have only now impacted the insurance premium that the council pays.

I tried to cross-reference dates with news reports from around the time and the only case I could find that may match up is a child harmed by broken glass on Howdale play equipment, but I believe the Borough Council would be liable in this instance so it’s not clear what any of these are about.