Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by Norwich Union Insurance (CA 166)



  Norwich Union Insurance is the UK General Insurer of the CGNU Group.

  Legacy companies that now form Norwich Union in the UK are Norwich Union, London & Edinburgh, General Accident and Commercial Union.

  Claims that have arisen for abuse date back many years and relate to policy exposures written by these legacy organisations. None of those companies had great exposure to Local Authority risks.


  Statistical information in the form requested for this Inquiry cannot be provided. Claims for abuse fall within the generic class of public liability and are consequently grouped with a wide range of other types of claims from a variety of causations.

  There was not a business requirement to capture information as specific as this and as such computer design does not allow for extraction from the broader class data.

  However we can say that we are currently handling approximately 200 claims with around 1000 claimants associated to them.

  In terms of value we would approximate that typically claims fall into a range between 10,000—80,000, including legal fees.

  The volume and cost information relates to claims generally and not simply to the last five years and local authorities.


  As a result of the high profile and emotional aspects of abuse it is perhaps understandable that complaints to the Police result in full scale enquiry.

  Events are almost entirely historical and thus where a home or school is involved police will seek out class mates etc and interview them.

  There are inevitable consequences of "trawling" in that networks of potential claimants are created with replication of allegations.

  The social side of "trawling" is that it revives disturbing memories for victims and causes them to confront something from the past that he/she has tried to overcome and which comes as a shock to those who have been unaware of his/her past.

  Where an alleged abuser has been convicted by the criminal courts beyond all reasonable doubt, it is almost impossible for Insurers handling any subsequent claim for compensation in a Civil Court to defend liability as this pleaded conviction reverses the burden of proof.

  The standard of proof is much lower in a Civil claim and a re-examination of the evidence is not cost effective and Norwich Union see no benefit in putting the individual through a second trial.

  Insurers are therefore totally reliant upon the Police investigations and Crown Prosecution Service securing safe convictions and welcomes the Committee's review.


  From our experience advertisement or media coverage generally encourages people to come forward.

  Where newspapers have become involved and publicised allegations, we tend to see a standardisation of those allegations in the additional claims intimated.


  Norwich Union would be in favour of a time limit and the availability of a much more robust limitation defence.

  In cases that we have handled allegations go back 30 years plus with the individuals blamed long since dead.

  How can such allegations be meaningfully investigated two generations later?

March 2002


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