Our next guest blog comes from APIL executive committee member Bridget Collier. Bridget has more than 16 years’ experience specialising in occupational disease work.
An increase in noise-induced hearing loss claims prompted shouts of “fraud” from the insurance industry, and subsequently in the headlines. Let’s think of reasonable answers to why claims have increased. Insurers say that three years ago the number of fraudulent noise-induced hearing loss investigations was less than half the number it is now. On the back of this, insurance industry representatives claim that the answer lies in culling solicitors by reducing their fees presumably so we won’t take the work on.
The fact is, in the last three years more information about the right to claim for hearing loss has become widely available. I myself am driven mad listening to the radio advertisements and on social media that tell me what the symptoms are and that there might be a claim. But all this amounts to education. Without it, you might just carry on thinking that deafness is something that’s crept up and you cannot do anything about it. But on learning that it might be someone’s fault and not an unfortunate consequence of age, of course it’s fair to make enquiries.
My dad thankfully now wears a hearing aid, before that he would miss whole bits of conversation. He would get upset that he was missing part of family banter and we would get annoyed with him for not listening properly. He knows it is just his age though because the audiogram test proves this just as it can prove whether it is noise-induced or not. An ear nose and throat consultant can work out what is caused by excessive noise and what is caused by age or health issues. With a test procedure with such specific results, a fraudster is obvious in several ways. We can surely rely upon on the evidence.
So why question the validity of these increased numbers of claims? Information brings knowledge to those affected and they are then entitled to seek redress because their employer could have prevented it.
Fraud is intolerable to all. But the insurers’ accusations make us wonder if they are simply trying to avoid paying out by shaming people out of claiming, as they know full well that the tests can prove their case.