BIBA response to the Northern Ireland Assembly’s position on Damages(Asbestos-related conditions) Bill (Northern Ireland) 2010

25th January 2011

BIBA is the UK’s leading general insurance organisation representing the interests of insurance brokers, intermediaries and their customers.


BIBA membership includes 1,700 regulated firms. Insurance brokers and intermediaries distribute nearly two-thirds of all UK general insurance. In 2007, insurance brokers and intermediaries generated £1.5 billion of invisible earnings and they introduce £22 billion of premium income into London ‘s insurance market each year.


BIBA is the voice of the industry, advising members, the regulators, the Government, consumer bodies and other stakeholders on key insurance issues.  BIBA provides unique schemes and facilities, technical advice, guidance on regulation and business support and is helping to raise, and maintain, industry standards. BIBA works closely with the Chartered Insurance Institute to provide training to those working in the industry and actively participates in helping the industry and its customers deal with some of the major issues of the day.


BIBA members provide professional advice to businesses and consumers, playing a key role in identification, measurement, management, control and transfer of risk.  They negotiate appropriate insurance protection tailored to individual needs and operate to a very high standard of customer service with the aim of ensuring peace of mind, security, financial protection and the professional advice required.


We thank you for the opportunity of responding to this Bill and would make the point that following the UK courts position that Pleural Plaques is not a claimable condition as there are no symptoms and any guarantee of compensation would create a huge surge in NHS X-ray requests from all who may have worked with asbestos at some time. Any additional costs incurred by the insurance industry due to an increase in claims made could affect the stability of the Northern Ireland insurance market and potentially force some insurance companies to reduce their activities in Northern Ireland or withdraw completely. The consequences for this are potential customer detriment with reduced availability of cover and the increase in premiums required to pay for the new claims.


Personal injury


We have looked at several Liability Policy documents and we would point out that the wording used by Insurers refers to “injury “- which is defined as bodily injury, death, disease or illness, mental injury, wrongful arrest or false imprisonment. – The term used within the proposed Bill  refers to “personal injury “ which is not normally used and as such could create uncertainty in relation to an insurance contract between the Insurer and policyholder (Business). It would not however exclude the claim against the policyholder.


 


We would not want to see a situation develop a situation of legal uncertainty for customers and the insurance industry whereby the court says that injury (which it acknowledges is not really injury )– is called “personal injury” and policyholders will be requested to indemnify to the value of the award by the court but find their Employers’ Liability policy is not behind them unless Bodily Injury is proven ??


 


Conclusion


 


BIBA believe everyone should have access to justice and compensation where this is due and that the law as it currently stands in England, Northern Ireland and Wales should remain unchanged in order to avoid prices increases and unintended consequences of the reduction in availability of cover.


 


Thank you for taking the time to consider our response. If you have any further queries please contact Peter Staddon, Head of Technical Services for further information on 0207 397 0204 or [email protected] or Graeme Trudgill, BIBA’s Head of Corporate Affairs on 020 7397 0218 or on [email protected]


 


Yours sincerely






Eric Galbraith


Chief Executive


 


Direct Tel:  020 7397 0201


Direct Fax: 020 7626 9676


Email: [email protected]