Aviva calls for clampdown on spurious industrial deafness claims

Article date: 9 February 2015

  • Aviva says genuine cases deserve compensation and has paid £1.2m to claimants since 2012
  • But many are brought by opportunistic lawyers supported by claims management companies looking for new revenue
  • and for every £1 paid to claimants Aviva spends £5 on legal fees

Data from Aviva reveals that 85% of claims for industrial deafness fail to demonstrate any link to workplace noise-induced hearing loss. The number of claims has risen sharply over the past five years and Aviva received more than 11,000 in 2014 alone - a four-fold increase since 2009.

Aviva has paid more than £1.2m to claimants since 2012, yet legal fees paid to claimant lawyers in the same period totalled about £5.5m.

Ian Harvey, senior claims manager at Aviva, said:

“Aviva recognises the problems caused by exposure to damaging levels of noise at work and we do all we can to settle genuine claims promptly. People who have been exposed to loud noise throughout their career and demonstrate noise induced hearing loss should be compensated. However, it cannot be right that for every £1 Aviva pays to genuine hearing loss sufferers, the claimant lawyers receive £5.

“Too many industrial deafness cases are submitted by opportunistic personal injury lawyers with the support of claims management companies that actively encourage people to make claims. They are not serving the best interests of claimants by submitting claims using poor-quality hearing tests.”

Aviva wants to work with the industry, Government and Regulator to make deafness claims quicker and simpler to settle. Potential reforms to campaign for include:

  • Expanding the Claims Portal1 to include multi-defendant claims 
  • Establishing a panel of independent hearing loss experts to reduce spurious and fraudulent claims
  • Agreeing a system of fixed legal fees for industrial deafness claims

Ian Harvey continued:

“There is an accepted standard for industrial deafness hearing tests that requires testing to be undertaken in sound-proofed, rooms with specialist equipment. However, we are seeing evidence of tests being done poorly and conducted in, for example, community halls and shopping centres. In some cases, no hearing tests are conducted at all.

“To solve this problem the industry should work together and campaign for a system of fixed legal fees for dealing with cases. Using standardised audiometric tests and expanding the Claims Portal to allow multi-defendant industrial deafness claims should also be considered.”

“We also call on the recently announced Insurance Fraud Task Force to recommend a programme of reform which will make these claims simpler to process and discourage lawyers from submitting weak cases they know are likely to fail.”

- Ends -

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

David Gwyer: Aviva Press Office: (01603 685147) (07800 692544) david.gwyer@aviva.co.uk

Notes to editors:

1The Claims Portal was established by the Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders and is used by lawyers and insurers to process and settle personal injury claims. It provides an electronic gateway allowing solicitors to input details of a claim making claims processing more efficient.

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