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Scottish asbestos proposal under fire from insurers

Scottish asbestos proposal under fire from insurers

A proposed bill that would enable the Scottish government to recover the cost of treating victims of asbestos-related disease from insurers could push up insurance rates and may even be unlawful, according to the London-based International Underwriting Association.

In its response to a comment period on proposals by Stuart McMillan, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, that the Scottish government should be able to retroactively recover medical costs incurred by the U.K. National Health Service in treating victims of asbestos-related diseases, the IUA said such a move would be inequitable.

The IUA said that a recent decision by the U.K. Supreme Court that the Welsh Assembly exceeded the scope of its responsibility by allowing the NHS to recover the costs of treating asbestos illness from companies and their insurers casts doubt on whether Mr. McMillan's proposals would be within the purview of the Scottish Parliament.

“We fully support the overall policy objective of ensuring that those suffering from asbestos-related diseases are treated quickly and effectively. If an organization has acted negligently or breached a statutory duty, then any insurance policy will respond in the normal way and compensation provided,” Chris Jones, director of market services at the IUA, said in a statement. “However, insurers cannot be expected to meet costs that are not within original policy terms.”

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