Insurers have united workers and bosses against themselves

Liability insurers should accept last week’s Court of Appeal ruling and start paying out for mesothelioma claims dating back to when they insured the businesses concerned.

Trying to change the basis of liability from the date of exposure to the date of the onset of symptoms may have been worth a punt but, by doing so, the industry has alienated and united two otherwise warring sides – the workers and the bosses – against the industry.

Families of individuals who have contracted the disease and even died have been angered and their trade unions enraged by the insurers’ attitudes.

And employers too have felt cheated. Having paid for insurance they were told would comprehensively cover them, they then watched the spectacle of the insurers attempt to weasel their way out of their responsibility.

Yes, insurers were not charging premiums in those days aware of the risks they were actually covering but, that has always been the case. The big claims today, for such things as stress, were not heard of when the premiums were calculated and the big claims of tomorrow have not been thought of today.

But there’s no point in insurers crying that it is unfair. Life ain’t fair.

Mr Justice Burton’s ruling in the High Court has not cost insurers money. What it failed to do was save them cash they would have otherwise expected to pay out.

Insurers should accept that now. To appeal further and to delay paying out while further legal machinations run, would be a public relations disaster.

It’s time to play fair.