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The Worrying Rise of Industrial Deafness Claims and their Implications for Insurance Fraud

Monday, 20 October 2014

A new trend has recently emerged in the area of insurance fraud.

The Association of British Insurers has warned that industrial deafness is fast becoming the new ‘cash cow’ for ambulance chasers throughout the UK.

Although in the past, whiplash claims have offered the greatest scope for abuse of insurance policies, it now seems that the claims industry is exploring a more creative and potentially more lucrative alternative.

Quantum of Damages in Industrial Deafness Claims

An examination of the figures in this area can help explain why the claims industry is broadening its horizons. Claimants can expect to secure around £10,500 for a successful industrial deafness claim compared to £500 for a whiplash claim.

What is more, the overall costs of industrial deafness are rising. Insurance experts claim that the compensation for industrial deafness has risen by two thirds in the last two years. An estimated 80,000 claims were made in 2013, with about 10% receiving compensation.

In 2012, AXA insurance had more claims for industrial deafness than any other type of workplace related injury, with the total amount of pay-outs reaching approximately £26 million.

Why Insurers should be Aware of Industrial Deafness Claims

The recent influx of industrial deafness cases could be attributed to a number of factors, but the primary catalyst appears to be increased regulation in the area.

For example, the threshold for over-exposure to noise has recently been lowered to 80 decibels, putting a greater onus on employers. Also, businesses are now obliged to have regard for their workers safety even if they are working in an environment which does not require the use of protective headphones. Once negligence in the area of workplace safety is established, the issue of damages will be considered.

However, insurer Aviva claims that the vast majority of claims in this area are fraudulent, an impression which appears to be shared among many in the industry. This has created an aura of distrust around industrial deafness claims which will undoubtedly have a negative effect on bona fide complainants.

Why Claimants should also be Wary of Overinflating Industrial Deafness Claims

Despite the disproportionate influence which claims of this sort are currently exerting on the legal system, it is important that potential claimants do not get caught up in this new trend.

A payout for industrial deafness is still quite rare. Also, unlike whiplash, hearing ability can be measured against easily understood and objective criteria.

In theory this should make it easy for judges to strike out spurious claims. In addition, it is quite possible that law-makers could choose to take a hard line approach to this issue in the future if the numbers of claims continue to escalate further.

For specialist advice regarding insurance claims or industrial deafness claims contact Peter Gourri today by email PGourri@rollingsons.co.uk or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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