Apollo collapse could lead to £1m of insurance claims

The exterior of the Apollo Theatre in the West End
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Personal injury claims relating to the Apollo Theatre ceiling collapse could exceed £1 million, a theatre insurance specialist has said.

The incident at the London venue last month, which saw 79 audience members suffer injuries, is likely to result in the insurer putting aside an average of £5,000 to £10,000 per person, the consultant predicted. But because nine of the injured patrons were deemed to have suffered more serious impairments, compensation could exceed £800,000, he added.

Andy Rudge, divisional director (theatre) at entertainment insurance firm Robertson Taylor W&P Longreach, said he expected the insurer for the liable party would set aside an average of £5,000 to £10,000 per person for pay-outs. He added: “This could easily go over £1 million in total if some of these [personal injury claims] are indeed more serious.”

He expected the vast majority of affected audience members would take action through ‘no win no fee’ agreements, which could take months or even years to settle.

“It very much depends on how the injury has affected the individual and what effect that has on their future and quality of life. You couldn’t say that everyone would get the same amount of compensation,” said Rudge.

“It can be quite a long-winded process. It’s unlikely that the more complicated claims would be settled within the next 12 months.”

Westminster City Council’s investigation into the cause of the accident is expected to determine who – if anyone – is liable for the ceiling collapse, but the results may not be published for several months.

Rudge said the National Theatre – the producer of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which was playing at the Apollo when a part of the ceiling fell in – might also be able to make an insurance claim for its loss of revenue. Performances were cancelled after the incident until further notice. The National announced last week that the play would be transferring to the neighbouring Gielgud Theatre from June.

A spokesman for Nimax Theatres’ insurer Zurich said it was dealing with several claims from individual third parties involved in the incident. He said most of these were low-value claims for damage to people’s property.

He added: “It is still quite early in the claim process and we are working closely with Nimax, their insurance broker and other experts to work towards a conclusion. Naturally a key focus for us all is to look after their customers."