1. Independent abuse inquiry

Zurich and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Writing in notebook

Zurich has managed insurance claims related to child abuse on behalf of its customers for many years.

We take the sensitive issues that arise for victims and survivors of abuse very seriously. Cases of abuse are very distressing for all involved, and we have great sympathy with anyone whose life has been affected.

Although Zurich does not have direct statutory safeguarding obligations as an insurer, we are ready to listen to the views of all parties as a core participant in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). We are committed to supporting the work of the Inquiry as it seeks to examine the way institutions have handled their child protection responsibilities.


The IICSA’s Accountability and Reparations Investigation Report

Published 19th September 2019


Zurich welcomes the Inquiry’s conclusions and recommendations in its Accountability and Reparations report published today, 19th September 2019.

Child sexual abuse is abhorrent, and the Inquiry’s work is vital in enabling the incredibly distressing accounts of victims and survivors to be heard so that lessons from the past are learnt and improvements are made. We have great sympathy with anyone whose life has been affected and are committed to continuing to work with the Inquiry to help create as sensitive and effective a system as possible.

In relation to the Inquiry’s recommendations that directly involve the insurance industry, Zurich confirms its ongoing commitment to work with the Association of British Insurers to support producing a code of practice for responding to civil claims of child sexual abuse, and in considering the introduction of a future national register of public liability insurance policies.

We also welcome the opportunity to continue our contribution to the Inquiry as it explores in further public hearings planned for November 2019, the important issues around the law of limitation and the potential for a redress scheme.

Zurich has made significant improvements in its own child sexual abuse claims handling processes such as its guidelines which are recognised in the Inquiry’s report. Our approach is focused on understanding the circumstances of individual claimants, making it clear that limitation should not be automatically applied to claims and support apologies being made, where appropriate. We have established a dedicated team to manage child sexual abuse claims, seeking specialist advice including from independent experts in the charity sector and we run frequent checks on the quality of claims handling.

We believe that the Inquiry has an important role to play in continuing to work with all parties to make further improvements in the treatment of victims and survivors, including when they bring civil claims.

Zurich is committed to continuing to support the incredibly important objectives of the Inquiry as a core participant.

Information for Zurich policyholders

Zurich recommends that independent legal advice should be sought if you are approached by the Inquiry or if you feel you should proactively approach the Inquiry.

Transparency and openness is the best way to ensure effective communication on these issues.

How does insurance typically cover abuse cases?

Claims for abuse tend to fall under Public Liability cover, but some may come under Directors and Officers’ Liability, Governors’ Liability or Employers’ Liability. In general insurance, policies are written on two bases: ‘claims occurring’ and ‘claims made’. It is important to understand how your insurance policy is written as this will impact your cover.

A policy written on a ‘claims occurring’ basis will pay out for valid claims that arise out of loss or damage that actually happens during the policy period.

A policy written on a ‘claims made’ basis will pay out for valid claims made during the policy period, regardless of when the incident or alleged breach of duty actually occurred.

Professional indemnity insurance policies are usually written as part of a liability policy on a ‘claims made’ basis. This means that the insurer who is in place when the claim is made (not when the abuse happened) takes insurance responsibility.

Public liability insurance policies are usually written on a ‘claims occurring’ basis. This means that the insurer who was in place when the abuse occurred takes responsibility for the insurance liability.

Our claims commitments

Abuse claims are very sensitive cases for all parties involved and can be very distressing for the victims and survivors of abuse as well as, in certain instances, those organisations and individuals against whom such accusations are made. We have great sympathy for anyone whose life has been affected by abuse.

Abuse cases are, by their nature, complex and need to be handled extremely sensitively, and we are committed to working with our policyholders to investigate and handle abuse claims as quickly and effectively as possible. In addition, we are committed to working closely with interested parties to help define and shape best practice within the insurance industry relating to physical and sexual abuse claims in the UK.

Where claims for physical or sexual abuse are made against organisations that we insure, these are typically covered under the organisation's public liability insurance policy. Public liability policies provide indemnity to an organisation (subject to policy coverage) in respect of that organisation's legal liability to third parties.

Each case will be considered on an individual basis and will be managed by an expert team at Zurich, whose members have many years of combined experience in handling abuse claims.

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