The incoming President of Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has called for a requirement for compulsory insurance in businesses that deal with the public.
There is already a requirement for mandatory insurance within the field of road traffic. It is hugely helpful to the extent that even in circumstances where the insurer could say that they have not been provided with the correct information when the insurance was first taken out, or when a policy term has not been adhered to, there is still a requirement to deal with the claim. Invariably the Motor Insurance Bureau would be involved at some stage.
Slater and Gordon have first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that arise in relation to public liability insurance. I have acted for a number of people pursuing public liability claims that either went to trial in the High Court, including Wembridge and others –v- Martin Winter, and also a case in which two fire officers were killed and a number of fire officers seriously injured as well as a number of police officers who were equally injured when attending a fire at a firework factory in Sussex.
The First Defendant, Mr Winter, had insurance for his business. The insurers decided that they would not compensate Mr Winter. They took the view that Mr Winter had failed to adhere to the terms of the policy and that they were therefore entitled to put the policy to one side. The claim was ultimately successful and, because another party was involved against whom judgment was finally obtained, the claim ultimately did not involve the insurers for Mr Winter, who was the cause of the fire.
If the proposals for compulsory insurance in businesses that deal with the public succeed -and I anticipate that there will be much tweaking along the way - the outcome must mean that members of the public are better protected. Businesses will then be more likely to adhere to the risk requirements that insurers will impose and that insurers can also not escape paying out on policies where they were rightly ‘at risk’ at the time of the accident.
One should not ignore the fact that this is likely to be a windfall for the insurance business… but that is another matter entirely.
Tristan Hallam is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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