Our commitments | Our Claims Commitments | Zurich Insurance

Our commitments: key principles to handling abuse claims

Writing in notebook

1. We will work to understand the perspective of a claimant

We respect the difficulties a claimant may face with making a claim — the process may be daunting and upsetting.

We approach each case with an open mind, understanding that there is no "typical" abuse claimant.

2. We will show respect for all parties

Claims of abuse are serious and each case needs to be approached objectively. This balance is essential for all parties concerned so that both the claim and any defence can be assessed without causing extra distress to any party.

Dealing with claims fairly and communicating with claimants with professionalism, sensitivity and empathy is of paramount importance to us.

3. We will aim for a balance between providing assistance and directing policy holders

As an insurance company our responsibility is to act as the insurer, not as an adviser or to police the relationship between policyholders and claimants.

Policyholders may decide that it would be appropriate for investigation findings to be shared or for admissions of fault or liability to be made (whether in the context of investigations or otherwise) at a point prior to the conclusion of any insurer-led investigation or proceedings.

Where an insured organisation sets up an internal inquiry, it is for that organisation to decide whether or not to hold the inquiry. Zurich would not expect or wish to be involved in such a decision. Individuals from the organisation involved need to exercise their independent professional judgement to ensure that the inquiry's terms of reference, aims and objectives are achieved.

4. We will undertake a fair claims process handled by specialists in this area

Policyholders of Zurich may determine the formation, scope and terms of reference of any investigations or reviews.

We encourage policyholders to obtain their own legal advice if they have concerns about the initiation, management or drafting of any investigation to ensure that confidentiality, defamation and liability issues are addressed.

5. Our policy is not to apply limitation as a matter of course 

The law provides that the period for bringing a claim for abuse against a defendant is limited to three years of the claimant being aware they have been injured, although the court has a general discretion to allow late claims. At Zurich, we only seek to apply this limitation on appropriate claims.

Our practice is to examine each claim on its merits and we frequently agree extensions to limitation periods with claimants and their representatives.

6. We do not deem offering counselling or support to the claimant in itself to be an admission of legal liability 

We are happy to discuss supporting the policyholder's provisions of support services for victims and survivors of abuse on a case by case basis.

7. We support the use of joint medical experts where possible

We will always consider the suitability of agreeing with the claimant and their representatives the use of a joint medical expert, in order to reduce the need for the claimant to have multiple medical examinations.

8. We do not support the use of consent as a defence in child sexual abuse claims

In our experience, it is very unusual to use consent as a defence to child sexual abuse claims and we do not support its use.

9. We understand that many victims and survivors want to receive an apology from any institution that has been in breach of its duties to them. We wholly support institutions making such apologies when appropriate

The timing of any apology may be driven by when the institution is in a position to know whether it has a case to answer in relation to any claims made. This is a decision for each institution dependent upon the facts of the particular allegations. The Compensation Act 2006 confirms that an apology does not in itself amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty, but we are aware that lawyers frequently advise their clients not to apologise due to the risk that this could be attached to an admission of liability. It is important for the facts to be properly examined. We do have concerns that premature apologies, which may be treated as an admission of liability by victims and survivors, may lead to disaffection from victims and survivors if at a later stage liability cannot be established.

© Zurich