By Daniel Hunter
In the last few years the number of deafness claims made on commercial insurance policies has been rocketing. AXA Business Insurance reports a rise of 162% from 2009-2012 with British businesses ultimately having to foot the bill.
In 2012 alone, AXA saw a year on year rise of 75% in the number of deafness claims and had more claims for deafness than any other type of workplace injury or illness. The company attributes the rise as a primary reason for an overall increase of over 30% in Employer Liability claims.
The insurer is concerned that the rise in claims is being fuelled by compensation lawyers and claims management companies targeting potential claimants. And while there are obviously many genuine claims, the company has also seen evidence of a growing number of fraudulent claims. It believes the trend in these claims has many similarities to the massive rise in personal injury claims among drivers over the last few years.
“The issue for British industry is that, as we have seen with other areas of insurance in the UK, lots of claims inevitably lead to higher premiums in order to cover the cost of payouts," David Williams, Managing Director, Underwriting, AXA Insurance, said.
"As British business struggles through a prolonged period of recession, the last thing they need is the added expense that this will bring.
“We are very keen to work with British businesses, the rest of the insurance industry and government to put in place effective measures to stop this becoming the next whiplash.”
According to HSE statistics, around one million people in Great Britain are exposed to levels of noise that could affect their hearing. Current Control of Noise regulations require all employers to provide protection in any working environment where decibel levels exceed 85.
“We would urge employers to be really thorough in ensuring employees are provided with proper protection and that using it correctly is robustly enforced. By doing this they can help us nip this growing problem in the bud before it starts impacting on their bottom line," Williams concluded.
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