The Assn. of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) has unveiled an insurance bond scheme to protect its members' customers in the event of a U.K. business failure.

From next month, all ASTA members will be bonded under a scheme underwritten by Lloyds of London. It will protect up to £2.5 million ($4.47 million) of customers' money so that people who buy from secondary ticket agents will get a refund if the company goes under and can't supply purchased tickets.

The move follows complaints about SOS Master Tickets last month, which is being investigated by Islington Council's trading standards officers. The company failed to supply hundreds of tickets that had been purchased for the V Festival, Reading and Leeds Festivals, and concerts by Madonna and George Michael.

In a statement, ASTA described the scheme as a "positive step in the right direction and we hope that the government look upon this initiative as going some way in fulfilling their wish of secondary market self-regulation."

The ticketing body says consumers should check for the ASTA and Lloyds of London symbols on any Web sites they use to purchase secondary tickets to ensure they are guaranteed.