Equitas, the reinsurance vehicle created by Lloyd’s of London to pay off all the liabilities of Lloyd’s reinsurance syndicates for policies written before 1993 and asbestos-related claims, many of which go back to the 1950s and 60s, have just recently announced it would “ … make (ex-gratia) payments to mesothelioma victims in situations where they would have been compensated by a Lloyd’s policy but the company no longer exists or cannot be traced.”
The declaration came on the same day that a Court of Appeal ruling granted appeals to be made to the Supreme Court in the ongoing dispute over when the liability insurance period begins for a mesothelioma claim, and it is likely that at least 12 months or more may elapse before the appeals may be heard.
It was in early October that a ruling was made in favour of plaintiffs pursuing asbestos compensation on behalf of asbestosis disease victims from a small number of Insurers who contest that a claim to compensation can date back to the period of time of first asbestos exposure rather than from the first appearance of asbestosis symptoms, many years after the insurance cover period.
Employers Liability Policy Trigger Litigation, as a result of the apparent re-interpretation of the wording of employers insurance cover policies, has been highlighted by claims being contested for when they can be first activated. Can the claim derive from the actual time of a negligent or wrongful act of the employer during the insurance cover period of the victim’s employment and original asbestos exposure or only from the time of the onset of mesothelioma and thus, when harm to the victim is actually derived?
The Equitas announcement, although possibly seen as a ‘timely’ response will nevertheless be of relief to those who are entitled to benefit. It is all too common for former employers to no longer be in business and attempts would be made by an asbestosis lawyer to recover compensation from the employer’s liability insurer whose policy was in operation at the time when the exposure to asbestos took place. Once again, the insurer may also be no longer in business or cannot be easily traced.
Inevitably, it is the victim and their families who may have to endure further suffering as a result of the due legal processes. A long latency period of up to 50 years may have already elapsed since first exposure and the confirmed diagnosis of disease. At this late stage, victims may not live long enough to see compensation paid to their family, as survival rates tend not to extend much beyond 12 months.
Currently, around 6,000 families of asbestosis disease victims have been seeking asbestos compensation for over five years.