LONDON - The U.K. BioIndustry Association (BIA) has teamed up with U.K. and U.S. insurance companies to launch coverage for biotechnology companies spanning a range of risks, which currently must be insured separately.

The BIA said its Masterpackage policy, covering assets, earnings, liabilities, clinical trials and travel, will show savings for start-up companies of up to 50 percent over the cost of buying each element of coverage separately.

Christine Soden, chairwoman of the BIA's finance committee and finance director of Cambridge-based Chiroscience plc, said there are two benefits of the policy. “Firstly, start-up and small companies can gain coverage normally available only to larger businesses with more buying power; and secondly, more mature firms can build their insurance program on a framework that already covers all the basic requirements, allowing them to concentrate on their own key issues.“

The BIA has developed the product in collaboration with the Miller Insurance Group, an independent broker, and U.S. insurer the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. The coverage includes risks that in the past were either not possible or too expensive to insure.

For example, most commercial policies exclude damage caused by temperature changes. The BIA said it is very important to have coverage for this because of the potentially crippling costs - which may include the need to rerun clinical trials - if temperature changes affect stored materials during product development. - Nuala Moran