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Legacy issues

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

The Inquiry published its report on the Accountability and Reparations investigation on 19 September 2019. In the report two Recommendations were made concerning the ABI:

Recommendation 2:

The Local Government Association and the Association of British Insurers should each produce codes of practice for responding to civil claims of child sexual abuse.

The codes should include recognition of the long-term emotional and psychiatric or psychological effects of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors, and acknowledgement that these effects may make it difficult for victims and survivors to disclose that they have been sexually abused and to initiate civil claims for that abuse. 

The codes should also include guidance that:

  1. Claimants should be treated sensitively throughout the litigation process;
  2. The defence of limitation should only be used in exceptional circumstances;
  3. Single experts jointly instructed by both parties should be considered for the assessment of the claimants’ psychiatric, psychological or physical injuries; and
  4. Wherever possible, claimants should be offered apologies, acknowledgment, redress and support.

Recommendation 4:

The Department for Work and Pensions should work with the Association of British Insurers to introduce a national register of public liability insurance policies. The register should provide details of the relevant organisations, the name of the insurer, all relevant contact details, the period of cover, and the insurance limit. These requirements should apply to policies issued and renewed after the commencement of the register, and those against which a claim has already been made.

The Financial Conduct Authority should make the necessary regulatory changes to compel insurers that provide public liability insurance to retain and publish details of all current policies.

The role of the ABI

The ABI is a trade association which represents insurance companies. It does not write insurance policies or sell insurance cover. That is what its members do. Where there is an insurance policy which may respond to a claim for damages following child sexual abuse it will usually be what is called a Public Liability policy. This is insurance cover which will respond if a claim is made against an organisation by a member of the public. This insurance is not and has never been a compulsory insurance policy. Many organisations or individuals who may be responsible for abuse will have no or limited insurance. 

The ABI and its members are grateful for the opportunity to engage with and work with the Inquiry to ensure that, to the extent that they are involved in the provision of redress to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, there is a fair, just and clear process for all.

The ABI sent a letter to the Inquiry dated 18 March 2020 and a further letter dated 22 February 2021, providing them with an update on the ABI’s work to progress the above Recommendations.

Code of Practice on Responding to Civil Claims of Child Sexual Abuse

In August 2021, the ABI published a Code of Practice on Responding to Civil Claims of Child Sexual Abuse. This Code addresses issues identified by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in its Accountability and Reparations Investigation Report (see Recommendation 2 above), and seeks to improve certain aspects of the civil claims process that are within insurers’ control for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

The Code includes guidance on all four of the areas contained in the Inquiry’s recommendation (including that limitation will only be raised as a defence in exceptional circumstances), and also other areas of the civil claims process that may have caused distress for victims and survivors including the use of confidentiality agreements.

The Code has been developed by a group of ABI member representatives with expertise in the handling of child sexual abuse claims. The powerful testimonies of victims and survivors during the public hearings of the Independent Inquiry, including their experiences of the civil claims process, have helped shape it. For some insurers, this document codifies existing good practice which may already form part of their approach to handling child sexual abuse claims.