High Court ruling on insurance liability increases hope of asbestos victims receiving compensation.
Fears that construction workers exposed to asbestos would receive little or no compensation have subsided following a High Court ruling that insurers will still be liable for claims made under policies that were in force at the time of exposure rather than only when the employee became ill.
The case, known as the “Employers’ Liability Trigger Litigation”, comprised a collective hearing of six actions.
Mr Justice Burton ruled that insurers of employers that expose their employees to asbestos dust are liable to pay compensation for subsequentasbestos related diseases.
Among the six actions was a dispute between Municipal Mutual– a group of insurers that argued that asbestos-related claims should be made under the policies in force when the individual became ill – and a group of companies led by Zurich Insurance, which argued that the applicable policy was the one in place at the time of inhalation.
Iwan Borszcz, casualty claims director at Zurich, said: “If we didn’t challenge this issue in court, then the compensation payments for the victims that were negligently exposed to asbestos would have been either significantly less than they should’ve been, or nonexistent in cases where the insurer has ceased trading, or is insolvent.”
He added that, if Zurich had lost the case, the taxpayer would have had to foot the bill for compensation payments as councils would have been forced into “self-funding” claims relating to mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-related condition.