It’s good to see that the Department of Work and Pensions has decided to help victims of asbestos exposure trace the insurers of their former employers, the vast majority of whom have long since ceased to exist.
These diseases, a miserable and often deadly legacy of Inverclyde’s thriving industrial past, have a long latent period which means it commonly takes decades before the full effects are known and take affect.
I know from personal experience just how difficult tracing insurers can be when fighting to win compensation for victims and their families.
Thompsons specialises in industrial disease compensation claims and over the years we have amassed our own database of thousands of companies who used asbestos and, more importantly, their insurers.
Our database has helped victims who otherwise would have been powerless to gain redress.
Now the DWP has set out plans for an electronic database of employer’s insurance policies to track records, as well as a new bureau to provide funds.
The new bureau’s second remit is to provide compensation for those who develop a disease, even where an insurer cannot be traced, in the same way that someone in a car accident can get compensation when the vehicle’s owner can’t be trace or does not have insurance.
By announcing these plans the DWP has shown an insight and understanding of the plight of those suffering from industrial diseases and how they can wreck lives.
Between trade unions; specialist lawyers; asbestos charities and the new database, far fewer victims should be left in limbo due to poor insurance record keeping.