Bill provides greater financial support to employee cancer claimants

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Victims of asbestos-related cancer in the workplace will receive increased financial support and benefit from a simpler claims process under a new Bill introduced by the government.

The Mesothelioma Bill aims to ensure that employees who have suffered from mesothelioma cancer are provided with a secure support system that enables them to trace an employer or insurer and provide a level of payment to the victim.

Under the new scheme, there will be set timescales for providing information and legal costs. For example, where there is a traced employer or insurer, compensation should be paid within three months, and three to five months where there is no traced employer or insurer.

According to the Association of British Insurers, every week nearly 50 people die from mesothelioma.

Announced in the Queen's Speech earlier this week, the Bill includes support for up to 3,000 sufferers who currently go un-compensated and includes a more streamlined system which seeks to speed up the claims process. Over the next ten years, these victims will receive payments of over £300m in total.

The scheme will launch in July 2014, however, people diagnosed with mesothelioma from 25 July 2012 will still be able to claim.

ABI director general Otto Thoresen said: "Mesothelioma is a devastating disease which has a terrible impact on sufferers and their families. The insurance industry wants to do all it can to help sufferers and has worked with the government on this package of measures that will deliver help to claimants much faster, including to those who would otherwise go uncompensated."

In order to speed up the legal process, the insurance industry is also looking to build an online portal for sufferers of the asbestos-related cancer to register claims which will ensure that all relevant information is kept in one place.

Speaking when the proposals were first announced in July last year, minister for welfare Lord Freud who piloted the scheme said: "We have worked tirelessly together with the insurance industry to agree this package of measures on behalf of those who face this terrible disease.

"The new scheme will mean that, for the first time, sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma, who cannot trace either a liable employer or employers' liability insurer, will have access to extra payments."

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