When news broke last year that local authorities had been caught trying to suppress evidence of child abuse to avoid losing insurance cover should they have found themselves having to compensate victims, the public and the media started to look at how insurance companies in these situations were behaving, too.
A BBC investigation observed that insurance companies were placing pressure on councils to make it increasingly difficult for victims of sexual abuse to seek justice, not just in the present, but stretching back several years.
That this behaviour has a long history to it, is even greater cause for concern. We know this kind of behaviour stems back at least as far as 1996, when MP Rhodri Morgan exposed insurance companies Zurich Mutual and Municipal’s threats to withdraw insurance if independent reports outlining abuse in care in Wales, were published.
As of yet, there has only been one inquiry into how insurance companies have managed to influence councils or place undue pressure on local authorities to avoid claims (thanks to Morgan’s campaign), but there has not yet been a single, dedicated inquiry into insurance companies across the UK and their conduct in this context.
The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse has now promised to look at how insurance companies have been dealing with child sexual abuse allegations, however it remains to be seen whether the Inquiry will have the time and resources to give this element the attention it deserves during the first phase of their work, which incorporates 12 different investigations and will be their main focus for this year.
For those of us assisting parents in this area, we are only too familiar with the resistance local authorities often show and the lack of willing when it comes to investigating allegations of child sexual abuse, which we are aware are underpinned by concerns over insurance payouts. The questions now must be, how many insurance companies are engaging in this behaviour and how many victims have been affected?
Many thanks to Maggie Tuttle for sharing the Early Day Motion, with us.