May 11, 2013
The government has released details of proposed new legislation which will enable former employees to claim mesothelioma cancer compensation when their former employers cannot be located.
The Mesothelioma Bill, which was announced in the Queen´s Speech, aims to provide a means for workers, who were exposed to asbestos in the workplace and who subsequently developed mesothelioma cancer, to claim compensation when their former employers or the insurance company who provided employer liability insurance cannot be traced.
The proposed scheme will only apply to those unable to claim mesothelioma cancer compensation from a former employer´s insurance company and will settle claims for compensation at 70 percent of the average settlement paid out by insurers to those able to make a claim through the normal channels.
The £300 million program will be funded by a levy on insurance companies currently providing employer´s liability insurance and enable more than three hundred former employers each year to claim mesothelioma cancer compensation who would otherwise not receive anything.
Otto Thoresen, director general of the Association of British Insurers, welcomed the Bill saying “The insurance industry wants to do all it can to help sufferers and has worked with the government on this package of measures that will deliver help to claimants much faster, including to those who would otherwise go uncompensated.”
However, campaigners for asbestos victims have criticised the proposals – saying that they do not go far enough. They cite that former employees wishing to claim mesothelioma cancer compensation through the scheme will only qualify if they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer since 25th July 2012 and that the Mesothelioma Bill excludes former employees who are suffering from pleural thickening or asbestosis.
Chairman of the Asbestos Victims Support Group – Tony Whitston – said: “What appears to be a great deal brokered by government, and costing the insurance industry a small fortune, is in reality something entirely different. This scheme is not what we expected. It was presented as a fait accompli to asbestos victims and saves the insurance industry a small fortune at huge cost to asbestos victims.”
The British Lung Foundation was also critical of how much money was being invested into research of the disease. A spokesperson said that “a shamefully small amount” was spent on research into mesothelioma cancer – only £400,000 in 2011, compared to £11.5 million spent on lung cancer – and said the British Lung Foundation would campaign for a “long-term, sustainable research fund” to find a cure for mesothelioma cancer.