Questions and answers | Independent Abuse Inquiry | Zurich Insurance

Questions and answers

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What should we do if an allegation is made?

In the event an allegation or claim is made in relation to an abuse case, recent or non-recent, it is important to carry out a thorough investigation.

In some cases, the abuser might have been convicted of abusing the claimant. On the other hand, a claimant may make an allegation which is denied by the other party involved.

Check all documentation relating to the relevant people and timescales. Do not attempt to hide or destroy any documents as this would be regarded a serious criminal offence. Ensure all files relating to allegations or relevant complaints are easily accessible should you require them for evidence.

Remember, documents should be retained and safeguarding procedures should be reviewed on a regular basis.

What should I do if I think the Inquiry will name my organisation?

If you think your organisation might be named by the Inquiry, you may wish to obtain your own legal advice.

It may also be worth preparing a short report going back as far as possible showing the number of allegations / complaints, how many were upheld or dismissed, how they concluded and what lessons were learned.

Can victims and survivors claim damages?

Victims and survivors of abuse may be entitled to claim for damages such as:

  • General Damages - compensation for psychological damage, pain and suffering sustained as a result of the incident.
  • Special Damages - compensation for expenses incurred as a result of the incident.

The total level of damages will be highly dependent on the facts of each case. Many cases settle before trial so there are few reported cases on which to rely.

How does insurance cover abuse cases?

Claims for abuse tend to fall under Public Liability, but some may come under Directors and Officers Liability or Governors’ 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.

What is the limitation period for abuse claims?

The law currently 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.

We are committed to acting fairly towards all parties affected by abuse cases throughout all aspects of the claims process. Where a valid claim exists and we believe a fair trial is possible we will waive any limitation period in respect of that claim.