Mesothelioma Insurance

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer which kills around 2,400 people in the UK each year. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos, which often occurs in the workplace. Insurers pay out £200 million a year to mesothelioma sufferers.

Asbestos is a material that was commonly used in the manufacturing and construction industries between the 1950s and the 1980s. People who worked in these industries during this time were regularly exposed to asbestos, inhaling asbestos dust and fibres over a prolonged period of time. It later emerged that the inhalation of asbestos was the main cause of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is cancer which affects the lungs or the lining of the stomach. It is almost always fatal, with most sufferers dying within two years of diagnosis. There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma – treatment usually focuses on relieving a sufferer’s symptoms and improving their quality of life.

Mesothelioma sufferers can make compensation claims against the employer for whom they were working at the time they were exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma has a long latency period – that is the time between a person’s initial exposure to asbestos and the development of the disease – usually between 30 and 40 years. This can mean that the employer in question no longer exists. In such cases, the mesothelioma sufferer can submit a claim to their former employer’s employers’ liability insurer.

The insurance industry is committed to helping people with mesothelioma and their families to get the support they need. The ABI is campaigning to reform the compensation process for mesothelioma sufferers. We are working with the Government and insurers to make the compensation process quicker and easier for mesothelioma sufferers through measures including:

Supporting medical research and raising awareness of asbestos exposure

Insurers have supported research and advocacy campaigns from a number of organisations, including the British Lung Foundation (BLF), and the BLF’s ‘Take five and stay alive’ campaign which raises awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure among those most at risk, for example, DIY enthusiasts and tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians.

Reforming the legal system

The legal process for mesothelioma claims can be complex, lengthy and expensive. The insurance industry is campaigning for improved processes that will allow mesothelioma sufferers to settle their cases more quickly.

Tracing insurers and former employers

Mesothelioma sufferers may find it difficult to track down their former employer’s employers’ liability insurer if the company has gone out of business. In April 2011 the insurance industry set up the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) to help people find insurers if their former employer is no longer in business. The ELTO has a database of millions of insurance policies from all past and present employers’ liability insurers. The service has made tracing policies considerably easier for mesothelioma sufferers.

Over the next few months, the ABI and the ELTO will be introducing further improvements. These will include a committee to analyse claimants’ evidence of the existence of their former employer’s employers’ liability policy in the absence of the policy itself.

Mesothelioma Support Scheme

In January 2014 the Government passed the Mesothelioma Act 2014 legislation to establish the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS). The scheme is funded by the insurance industry and will make payments to around 3,000 mesothelioma sufferers who cannot find an employer or insurer to claim from. Mesothelioma sufferers diagnosed after 25 July 2012 who are unable to trace an insurer or compensator are eligible to make a claim under the scheme. A levy imposed on employers’ liability insurers funds the scheme. For more information see the DMPS website.

Next steps

  • if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma speak to a claimant lawyer about making a claim against your former employer
  • if your former employer has gone out of business, you may be able to track down their insurer through the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO
  • go to the DMPS website for further information


Getting mesothelioma treatment can be expensive. Learn more about insurance options that can help pay for treatment.

Health Insurance Types

There are three types of health insurance plans that can help mesothelioma patients pay for treatment. Although the actual amount each plan covers will vary between plans and from patient to patient, knowing the pros and cons of each can help patients understand what to expect financially.

Individual Private Insurance

Individual private insurance plans come in many shapes and sizes and can help pay for mesothelioma treatment costs.There are two main kinds of individual private insurance:

Managed Healthcare Plans

These plans include HMOs (health management organizations) and PPOs (preferred provider organizations). Typically, a patient is only covered if he or she uses a doctor who is under contract with the HMO or PPO network. This may restrict a patient’s choice of doctor for a disease like a mesothelioma, which requires specialized treatment.

HMOs and PPOs usually require less paperwork and lower co-pays/premiums than most other individual private insurance plans. This makes the claims process easier and allows patients to focus more on getting treatment.

Traditional Health Insurance (Fee-for-Service Plans)

Traditional health insurance plans require patients to pay a monthly premium and yearly deductible. Patients must also file their own claims and may, under some circumstances, have to pay upfront for treatment. These additional costs should be recorded so that the insurance company can reimburse patients for the exact amount they paid out-of-pocket.

Traditional plans are more flexible than HMOs or PPOs because the patient is not restricted to a network of doctors and has the option of choosing a specialist with mesothelioma experience.

Employee Health Insurance

Employee Health insurance plans are chosen, and sometimes purchased, by employers for their workers. They differ from individual private insurance in that the plan itself is negotiated by the employer for a group of people, namely the employees, and not for individuals.

This type of health insurance benefits mesothelioma patients in a number of ways. Because policies are typically negotiated by the company for employees as a group, the insurance company does not screen each individual employee for pre-existing conditions. Patients won’t be turned away for a pre-existing condition like mesothelioma or have to pay high premiums to obtain coverage.

Additionally, there is less paperwork when a claim is filed for a group plan, a feature which saves time and a considerable amount of stress. Another benefit is that federal regulations require employers to purchase full coverage for their employees. Full coverage helps patients get the quality of treatment mesothelioma, an aggressive disease, demands.

Medicare and Medicaid

Mesothelioma patients may also qualify for government health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a program instituted by the government to help Americans over the age of 65 pay for health care. Since 60 percent of mesothelioma patients are over the age of 65, Medicare can serve as a resource to help older patients pay for treatment.

Medicaid is available for patients who cannot afford to pay for health insurance. If you are a low income earner or are unemployed, Medicaid can help you pay for treatment. Patients with questions about these government programs should contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

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