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INSURANCE SECTOR NEWS ROUNDUP

If ever there was an advert for the purchase of personal accident insurance it is the tale of poor Mr Glennroy Blair-Ford who when enjoying a week of outdoor pursuits took on that most British of throwing events; the Welly Wang.

In so doing, Mr Blair-Ford was catastrophically injured, breaking his neck and being forced to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. His case reached the High Court but on 13 August Mr Justice Globe said his injuries were a "reasonable and foreseeable consequence" of his actions and that CRS Adventures Ltd, operators of an outdoor pursuits centre at the River Dart Country Park in Devon, were not liable for damages, although it is understood he may be set to appeal.

Were Mr Blair-Ford's damages forthcoming, the discount rate would have played a significant function in calculating his award. Having reported back in 2010 how there was a clamour from both sides of the industry for a review of the rate, Kenneth Clark agreed to do so in November 2010...well, now it's begun and you can have your say, with the Ministry of Justice providing an ample 12 week consultation period and a range of ways to get in touch. Currently at 2.5% after being adjusted down from 3% in late 2001, a reduction of the rate would have the effect of increasing lump sum settlements in personal injury cases significantly and vice versa were the rate to rise. We'll provide a further guide to the discount rate review in next month's Premextra.

And finally, asbestos pressure groups have been up in arms at what they say is a half measure from the Department of Work and Pensions with its latest announcement on industrial disease compensation. Jamie Doward's report in the Observer said that a delay before the scheme for mesothelioma claimants comes into force in 2014 meant many people would die before receiving any money. He also pointed out that those suffering from asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-related lung cancer - which campaigners say constitute 50% of all asbestos diseases - are excluded from the scheme, which applies only to people who have been diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma since 25 July this year. However there was a note of optimism when he said: "Privately, officials from the Department for Work and Pensions hold out the prospect that the scheme might be expanded in the future to include more victims of asbestos-related illnesses."

It is estimated that the scheme will see insurers pay out £300m over the next 10 years as the number of mesothelioma cases peaks in around 2015 and then starts to drop off.