Employers Liability Tracing Office 2020 annual report

Date published

29/09/2021

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The recent publication of the Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) annual report provides some useful data for insight into the current legacy market position. In this article, from an occupational disease perspective, we explore this report to include patterns and trends over the past few years.   

What is the Employers Liability Tracing Office?

The ELTO was founded by the insurance industry in 2011 to give claimants easy access to their employer’s liability (EL) insurance data. The service aims to “help those who have suffered injury or disease in the workplace identify the relevant EL insurer quickly and efficiently”. Claimant solicitors and insurers enter the company name and dates of employment and are allowed to search the ELTO database for EL insurance cover, so they can direct claims appropriately. This data has been populated over many years and is an evolving process with new policies added all the time.

The Financial Conduct Authority requires insurers who have liabilities for UK EL policies to publish information about their insurance policies so that the records can be searched. This is particularly useful for claimants with long-tail diseases who haven’t worked for their employer for many years.

The 2020 ELTO report

Following a review of ELTO activity in 2020, to gauge the impact of various changes to the user experience on the ELTO website, and to aid the location of historic EL cover, the report was published on 8 June 2021

The below table identifies the enquiries made by disease type:

Noise-induced hearing loss claims

While noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims have reduced in recent years, they still occupy 50% of market searches for insurers - 16,726 enquiries per annum is significantly lower than 2017/2018 when the NIHL market was at its peak. Further, while there has been much publicity regarding the Health and Safety Executive’s activity around HAVS/VWF claims, this injury only accounts for 4.1% of all ELTO searches.

Pleural plaques - Scotland

Pleural plaques remain a steady flow of claims in Scotland and this is supported by the number of searches being made for insurers for this condition, which does not attract compensation in England and Wales.

Asbestosis/asbestos-related cancers

Asbestosis and asbestosis-related cancer account for 10% of total searches. Both conditions are associated with heavy doses of asbestos exposure and it might surprise some to find these conditions remain as common, as evidenced here, with presumption being those heavily exposed have now largely been compensated.

Mesothelioma

For mesothelioma claims, it is interesting that double the number of searches for insurers prior to 1972 are made, when compared to the much larger period 1972 to1999:

This could be a reflection that insurance policies prior to 1972 are less easy to ascertain and that there is an increased chance of the employing company being dissolved. However, it could also be seen as an indication that a significant quantity of the claims are still coming from the pre-1972 period and before EL insurance was made compulsory.

How long the mesothelioma ‘long tail’ will last is a constant question for insurers and their actuaries. There is some support here to suggest that we are some way from being out of the 1960s completely, in terms of exposure and causation.

Disease claims remain the dominant reason for ELTO being used to trace insurers, when compared to accident claims.

Comment

The 2020 report records a total of 81,073 enquiries equating to a 28% reduction when compared to the 2019 report. This is not hugely surprising in light of the lockdown periods, when a significant proportion of the population was furloughed or working from home and vehicle travel was reduced significantly.

In contrast, the vast majority of mesothelioma sufferers encounter asbestos in their working lives, often decades prior to diagnosis. Mesothelioma enquiries have generally followed an upward trajectory, though 2020 enquiries were an exception to this trend. We, therefore, watch with interest for the release of the 2021 report.

Read other items in Occupational Disease Brief - October 2021