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Our approach to managing PSA claims

We review our claims handling process continually and welcome feedback from victims and survivors who have experienced the claims process (claimants) and the organisations we insure which have had PSA claims brought against them (defendants).  This is to ensure the process is as sensitive and empathetic as possible to the distress of the claimant while allowing us to do all we can to conclude matters as soon as possible in a fair and transparent way. 

Our Statement of Guiding Principles enshrines the principles and commitments under which we endeavour to manage the PSA claims brought against defendants, within the confines of the law.  It also provides useful insight for defendants and for current or potential claimants.

We believe we are the first UK insurer to make our guiding principles on handling PSA claims public. You can find our complete document on the claims process and our guiding principles here.

We expect all third party organisations we engage in connection with PSA claims to adhere to our Guiding Principles.

Our Guiding Principles for claims handling

  • Policyholders should respond constructively from the outset

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    Claims arising from physical and sexual abuse can be challenging and traumatic for all concerned, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.  

    Ecclesiastical is often asked by defendants what action should be taken where allegations of abuse are made against them and the claimant is asking for some assistance, short of making a formal legal claim. The concern defendants have is that to take any action at all may imply a legal liability and may prejudice the position of their insurance company. 

    It is important that defendants understand that offering an apology or offering pastoral care and/or counselling sessions to the claimant can be extremely important in helping the claimant and can be offered without prejudicing insurance cover.  We believe the response given by defendants to claimants should not be done in such a way that it is experienced as negative, resistant or unhelpful as this may create relationship difficulties and worsen the claimant’s wellbeing.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Policyholders should consider adopting these principles

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    We believe defendants should always acknowledge how difficult it must have been for the claimant to come forward, thank them for taking this step and explain what will happen next.  These 10 Guiding Principles are intended to assist in that process. Defendants should always inform Ecclesiastical of the situation on a timely basis. One of our specialist abuse case handlers will be able to assess the facts of a particular case with the defendants and provide assistance.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Policyholders should consider the appropriateness of an apology

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    Policyholders should consider whether they feel it is appropriate to offer an apology or an acknowledgement of what has happened to the claimant.  Ecclesiastical will not prevent an apology, either oral or written, being made by a defendant. 

    Generally, Part 1 (section 2) of the Compensation Act 2006 makes it very clear that “offering an apology, an offer of treatment and other redress [not defined] shall not in itself amount to an admission of negligence or a breach of statutory duty”.  Therefore, to give an apology or simply acknowledge the abuse circumstances will not normally prejudice the position, but such action is best considered by defendants in consultation with Ecclesiastical.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Policyholders should consider offering support or counselling

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    We believe defendants should consider providing or offering pastoral care, counselling and/or other forms of available support to the claimant if it would aid the claimant’s well-being.

    Offering to pay for some counselling or treatment would not in itself be deemed to be an admission of legal liability. The updated 2015 Rehabilitation Code specifically allows for this and is there to encourage both sides to seek early medical redress so as to mitigate the effects of any injury. Ecclesiastical is a strong supporter of the rehabilitation approach as we wish to assist where possible to achieve the best post trauma outcome for a claimant.  Ecclesiastical is prepared to discuss supporting the defendant’s provision of pastoral care/counselling on a case by case basis.

    The making of a formal claim will result in communications between the claimant and the defendant, or their respective legal advisers if engaged.  This should not however prevent any defendant continuing to support the claimant through the provision of pastoral care that is being provided or offering support/counselling as outlined above. Ecclesiastical recognises and endorses the importance of the continuance of pastoral care throughout the claims process.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Our commitment to empathetic claims investigation

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    Ecclesiastical will approach any claim investigation with sensitivity, empathy and integrity.  Each case will be considered carefully and individually, recognising that it is in everyone’s interests to conclude matters as soon as possible.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Our commitment to appointing joint medical experts where appropriate

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    Ecclesiastical recognises that requiring claimants to undergo multiple medical evaluations may cause further distress.  Ecclesiastical will always consider the appropriateness of agreeing with the claimant the instruction of a joint expert if the claimant, and his/her advisers, so wish.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Our commitment regarding the use of limitation as a defence

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    The Limitation Act 1980, in England and Wales with similar provisions in Scotland and Northern Ireland, states that a personal injury claim must be pursued within three years of the claimant being aware they have been injured. The courts do have the power to extend the limitation period in accordance with Section 33 of the Limitation Act and frequently do so.  Ecclesiastical acknowledges that limitation should be pleaded as a defence to a claim very sparingly.  Ecclesiastical has an internal escalation procedure which requires the pleading of a limitation defence to be considered and approved before it is pleaded in any individual case.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Our commitment regarding the use of consent as a defence

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    Currently, there is no set age of consent in civil claims.  Ecclesiastical recognises however that a claimant who was under 16 when the abuse took place should not be deemed to have consented to such abuse and this will not be raised as a possible defence.

    Ecclesiastical will be mindful of the power imbalance that is often presented in such cases even where the claimant was over the age of 16 at the date of the abuse.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Our commitment to fairness in the claims process

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    Ecclesiastical is committed to acting fairly towards all parties who are affected by the claim.  Ecclesiastical will apply an overriding principle of fairness to all aspects of the claims process.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Our commitment to transparency

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    Ecclesiastical will not insist or include a confidentiality requirement in a settlement agreement unless specifically requested by the claimant.

    TERMINOLOGY
    Claimant: the victim or survivor of abuse who is making the claim
    Defendant: the insured organisation, or those with assumed vicarious responsibility for the action of the organisation’s employee/s or representative/s accused of abuse

    These terms may vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.