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25 July 2012
From today newly diagnosed victims of mesothelioma will receive help through a new support scheme, the Minister for Welfare Lord Freud and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have announced.
The new scheme will allow around 3,000 mesothelioma victims across the UK who are unable to claim compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or employers' liability insurer to receive approximately £300m in payments in the first 10 years.
Although the majority of people are able to claim compensation through the employers' liability insurance held by their employer, more than 300 mesothelioma sufferers a year currently lose out on compensation because they are unable to trace a liable employer or employers' liability insurer.
This new scheme, funded by insurers, will help support mesothelioma sufferers as they face the unique circumstances of this terrible disease. These payments will be in addition to the £200m the insurance industry already pays each year in compensating mesothelioma sufferers.
Lord Freud said:
"We have worked tirelessly together with the insurance industry to agree this package of measures on behalf of those who face this terrible disease.
"The new scheme will mean that, for the first time, sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma, who cannot trace either a liable employer or employers' liability insurer, will have access to extra payments."
Otto Thoresen, the ABI's Director General, said:
"Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive cancer and the insurance industry, working with government, is determined to do all it can to ensure that sufferers get the support they need as soon as possible. This package of measures will deliver help to claimants much faster, including to those who would otherwise go un-compensated.
"We appreciate the urgency of this disease, and while implementation depends on legislation being put in place, we hope that the scheme will be up and running and the first payments made by July 2014."
The scheme will come into force subject to primary legislation and membership will be compulsory for all employers' liability insurers. However, Ministers and the ABI have agreed anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma from today (25 July 2012) will be eligible to make a claim.
Membership of the Employers' Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) – which runs an electronic database of employers' liability policies – will become compulsory for all employers' liability insurers, including companies who have provided employers' liability insurance in the past to ensure that where there is a liable insurer, they will pay the claim.
New measures to speed up the process of receiving compensation for all mesothelioma victims are also being introduced.
The integrated package of measures will also include:
a levy on current employers' liability insurers to fund the scheme at an estimated cost of £25-£35 million a year;
changes to speed up the process of getting support to all mesothelioma sufferers, including:
an online portal for all mesothelioma sufferers to register claims and for the parties involved to exchange information in a secure electronic way in order to settle claims more quickly.
changes to the Civil Procedure Rules to support the use of a mesothelioma pre-action protocol to ensure that evidence is disclosed early.
improvements in providing the information held by the Government needed to support claims, including standardised medical diagnosis, employment schedules from HM Revenue and Customs and information on state benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions;
addressing the civil litigation costs for all mesothelioma claims, to reflect the faster claims process and in line with the Government's wider reforms.