Interim measures to speed up payments to claimants

Insurers have criticised the government over its proposals to speed up the payment of compensation to mesothelioma claimants.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) last week introduced a series of interim measures for handling mesothelioma claims payments. These will be expanded upon in the autumn.

These include working with Revenue and Customs so that employer records can be traced more speedily, and introducing an independent ABI helpline to give guidance to claimants.

John Hutton, secretary for work and pensions, said: "I am committed to ensuring sufferers of this awful disease, which progresses so rapidly from the time of diagnosis, will get compensation before they die."

Insurers, however, were sceptical of the proposals.

David Williams, AXA technical claims director, said."I am pleased that these are interim measures which will be looked at again, because at the moment I am split on whether they will or will not help claimants.

"Insurers and the DWP will have to put in place much bigger reforms to speed the system up."

Royal & SunAlliance technical claims director Phil Bell said the measures could present practical problems.

"Using Revenue and Customs presents problems because not every employer is registered for VAT, and some of these claims pre-date compulsory VAT records," he said.

There is now intense pressure on the DWP to limit the involvement of lawyers in the compensation system.

Williams said: "There is a fundamental problem with this system because there are often delays in telling the insurer about the claim. Delays mean increased earnings for lawyers.

"What we need are measures which will robustly challenge those who are self-serving."

What the DWP proposes

  • Working with Revenue and Customs to trace employer records
  • A standard claim letter to identify mesothelioma claim as priority
  • Leaflets explaining where to get help and what is available
  • Support of the code of practice for tracing employers' liability compulsory insurance policies
  • ABI independent helpline to give guidance to claimants.