Portal should handle multiple defendants and lengthen 30-day response deadline

The government’s employers’ liability claims portal needs reform to help insurers tackle the rising tide of industrial deafness claims, according to QBE claims specialists.

The portal was introduced on 31 July 2013 to speed up and lower the cost of processing claims of £25,000 or below.

Speaking at the Airmic conference in Birmingham yesterday QBE claims manager – SIU Robert Smith-Wright and QBE senior risk manager Mike Barraclough called for the portal to allow multiple defendants per claim and for an extend the deadline for responding to portal claims beyond the current 30 working days.

Smith Wright said: “We need to have all industrial deafness cases [in the portal] not just single-defendant cases.”

He noted that claimants in industrial deafness cases are often targeting multiple companies and insurers.

On the portal claim response deadline he said: “Thirty days is not enough to establish a breach of duty, causation and an appropriate response to the claim.”

Barraclough added: “The cases are often so historic that finding the details, evidence and reports is almost an impossible task.

Smith-Wright says that QBE repudiates between 60% and 70% of deafness claims, in line with the industry standard, using evidence such as noise reports. But he added: “It is becoming more and more difficult with the introduction of the portal and trying to keep those cases in there as best we can.”

The industry may be waiting a while for changes to the portal. Barraclough said: “I don’t think change is likely in the near future.

“Much will depend on the form of government that we have next year and the lobbying insurers and businesses put into that.”