Insurers will be able to offer rehabilitation without admitting liability

Insurers will be able to apologise to claimants without admitting liability, under amendments made to the Compensation Bill by the House of Lords.

The move is expected to provide a boost to insurers' efforts to provide prompt rehabilitation to personal injury claimants, as treatment can be provided when the claim is initially made.

Steve Thomas, Zurich technical liability manager, said: "A big barrier to rehabilitation has been lifted. We will now be able to make an offer of rehab and care without admitting liability."

Phil Bell, Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) technical liability manager, commented: "Behaviour towards rehabilitation will also have to change. This is something to be encouraged and will give better access to rehab."

The Bill will be amended before it reaches the Commons on 27 March.

Meanwhile, attempts to remove the controversial clause 1 from the Compensation Bill, which attempts to clarify the definition of negligence, have failed.

The clause, which introduces a "desirable activity" test, has been met with scepticism from Norwich Union, R&SA, and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

Bell said the clause could lead to further satellite litigation while courts decide what can be termed as "desirable".

He added: "Anything leading to litigation would have a direct impact on premiums.

"The extra costs has to be paid for in some way, and it is logical that it would be through premiums."

But Zurich, the largest insurer of local authorities, supports the clause.

Thomas said: "It will be down to the courts to decide what is a desirable activity.

"Ultimately it will be the courts which are the final arbiters of the law."