Insurer QBE Sets Aside Immediate Needs Payouts for Spain Train Victims

August 2, 2013

Australian insurance group QBE said on Thursday it had set aside 2.75 million euros ($3.64 million) for the immediate needs of those affected by last week’s train crash in Galicia in northwest Spain, which left 79 people dead.

QBE may have to cover much higher costs of injury to third parties and rail infrastructure, but only if its client, state train operator Renfe, is found to bear responsibility for the accident.

The company said the payout announced on Thursday did not mean a recognition of responsibility, which will be decided by a legal process.

The company will offer 25,000 euros for every passenger killed in the accident and 5,000 euros to travellers who spend more than 8 days in hospital, QBE said in a statement.

A Spanish court said on Tuesday that the driver of the train, Francisco Garzon, 52, had been talking by phone with state train operator Renfe at the time of the accident.

QBE said insurance payouts could be claimed at a court in Santiago, the capital of the northern Galicia region, or at any Renfe office.

The Australian company and Germany’s Allianz are most exposed to the crash. Allianz’s Spanish subsidiary, which covers a compulsory personal accident policy for Renfe, said last week it had kicked off an action plan in response to the accident.

A source at QBE told Reuters last week that the company had not yet estimated the cost of a total payout as the cause of the crash remained unknown.

However, according to previous statements, QBE’s exposure to any public event is limited to $50 million because of reinsurance arrangements where it sells on risk to other parties to hedge liability. ($1 = 0.7557 euros)

(Reporting by Clare Kane; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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