University of Exeter bomb

Unexploded Bomb Detonates University Insurance Claim

In a recent legal battle, an insurance company emerged victorious in its refusal to honour a claim stemming from damage caused by the disposal of a World War Two bomb, following a controlled explosion in 2021 at the University of Exeter.
The claim arose due to damage caused to university halls of residence during the controlled detonation. Allianz, the insurance provider, contested the claim, citing a "war exclusion" clause that they believed applied to the university's losses.
The incident unfolded when contractors working on a construction site west of the university's campus unearthed a 1,000kg (2,200lb) unexploded bomb in February 2021. Dubbed "the Hermann", after Hermann Goring, Adolf Hitler's second-in-command, the high-explosive device prompted the evacuation of Birks Grange Village and Clydesdale Rise student halls of residence, along with the establishment of a 400-metre safety cordon.
Despite efforts by the Army's Royal Logistic Corps and the Royal Navy bomb disposal team, the bomb's age and potential booby-trapping rendered it unsafe for traditional removal. Consequently, it was encased in 400 tonnes of sand within a metal fence and detonated on the evening of 27 February, resulting in damage to nearby buildings.
Following the incident, the University of Exeter submitted an insurance claim to Allianz, seeking coverage for damage to halls of residence and business interruption costs associated with student rehousing. However, in a recent ruling, a judge determined that Allianz was within its rights to deny the university's claim.
Allianz's legal team argued that the dropping of the bomb constituted an "act of war" and was thus exempt from coverage. Conversely, the university's representatives contended that the true cause of the loss was the deliberate detonation by the bomb disposal team, challenging the applicability of policy exemptions to historic conflicts.
Ultimately, the judge sided with Allianz, noting the continued lethality of the bomb's explosive payload and the impracticality of its safe removal. The ruling underscores the complexities inherent in insurance coverage for events with historical contexts, highlighting the need for clarity in policy language and legal interpretation.

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Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team.

Matthew.Collins@ascendbroking.co.uk  | Office: 01245 449060

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