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Insurance executives paid bonuses for reducing payouts to asbestos victims

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It has been revealed that some of the insurance companies who are receiving claims from families who have lost a member due to asbestos exposure are paying bonuses to limit the compensation that is being paid.

Ian Willett, an executive for the insurance company Municipal Mutual Insurance (MMI), which has £85m at stake in asbestos claims admitted in court that a successful outcome in the trial would affect the level of bonus he would be paid by the insurer.

Asbestos exposure has been linked with causing the deaths of more than 4,000 people a year and is the biggest cause of death in the British workforce. The fibres from asbestos can stay in the lungs when a victim is exposed and eventually, cause a form of cancer called mesothelioma. The symptoms of this cancer however may not be apparent for as many as 50 years and it is anticipated that there will be a peak of cases in 2016.

Insurance companies are arguing through the courts that employer’s should only be liable from the time the cancerous tumours begin rather than when the victim was exposed to the asbestos. This is an argument which has been heavily criticised by many including Professor Geoffrey Tweedale, an asbestos historian at Manchester Metropolitan University who said: “It’s an attempt by the insurers to quibble over the words and find an escape route. It’s totally cynical to argue over when a tumour starts”

Hugh Robertson head of health and safety at the Trade Union Congress said: “The real injustice is that the insurers took the money. They had no qualms in taking the insurance policies from employers who believed their workers were insured, and now they’re doing everything to wriggle out of their commitments.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

October 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with ,

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