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U.K. health service can recover insurance charges


LONDON— The U.K. government has introduced new regulations which will allow the country's National Health Service to recover the costs of medical treatment from insurers in cases where compensation is paid for personal injury.

The government introduced the measure Monday, under the terms of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003.

Treatment cost will be claimed by the Compensation Recovery Unit, and be capped at £37,100 ($72,942). Treatment without admission to hospital will be a flat rate of £505 ($992.7), though this will increase to £620 ($1,218.8) per day where the patient is admitted, £159 ($312.6) will be the fee for any ambulance journey. These figures will be subject to adjustment to keep pace with inflation.

When the regulations were announced two years ago, the Association of British Insurers estimated that they would add a further 5% to the cost of employers' liability cover for an average business.

The NHS can already recover the cost of treating those injured in road accidents from the insurers of motorists liable for the injuries. The extension of this ability to recover costs to include other types of liability where compensation is payable will contribute a further £150 million ($294.9 million) to the NHS, it is estimated.

"The new arrangements will inevitably apply upward pressure on rates for the compulsory employers' liability insurance," said John Jones, technical director at Aon Ltd., a unit of Aon Corp., in Leeds, England. But he thought that the new regulations will have the greatest impact on public sector bodies, which get a large number of third party person injury claims. "The retail and leisure sectors are also likely to be affected, as they experience a large volume of small claims," he said.