Law firm says "success rate of 45% is simply not acceptable"

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has been criticised for its failure to assist asbestos victims who are unable to pursue a claim for compensation for their disease.

The ABI’s success rate for tracing employer’s liability insurers was published on November 27, 2009, and showed a success rate of 45%.

Personal injury lawyers Leigh Day & Co commented: “With all the information available to the ABI, the success rate of 45% is simply not acceptable. There have been widespread criticisms of an insurance industry “regulating itself”, and scepticism at the ABI’s failure to trace policies which saves the insurance industry an estimated £60m a year.”

Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. In the vast majority of cases it arises from exposure in the workplace.

It can take any time between 10 and 30 years (sometimes more) for the symptoms to manifest. During this time lapse between exposure and the symptoms occurring (“the latency period”), the victim’s employer often goes out of business.

In this situation a victim must bring a claim against their former employers’ insurer; which is where the ABI’s Tracing Service comes in. When a former employer is dissolved, it is essential that their insurer is identified in order for the victim to proceed with their claim for compensation.

Leigh Day & Co continued: “The Government has admitted that the scheme has been a failure, and that it is considering a more formal tracing service. Another alternative to the current system being put forward is the establishment of a ‘fund of last resort’ whereby all insurers pay into a fund, and in the eventuality that an employer’s liability insurer cannot be traced, the claimant can be compensated from this fund. This system, whilst not rectifying the failure to identify the insurance policies, could provide guarantees for compensation to those who are currently unable to pursue a claim, and in the case of mesothelioma victims, provide some support for themselves and their families.”