Many victims of industrial accidents have been left for decades without compensation because their employers were uninsured, chairman of the Association of Insurance Companies said on Wednesday.
Andreas Stylianou was speaking at the 40th annual general meeting of the association and slammed “the problematic attitude” of the labour ministry when it came to “the vital issue” of implementing the law on compulsory insurance for employers.
“It’s a fact that for decades victims who have been seriously injured in industrial accidents for which uninsured employers have responsibility, have suffered. Victims remain without compensation, with huge economic and social consequences for themselves and their families,” said Stylianou.
“And I am not referring to isolated incidents, nor cases of minor injuries. I am referring to accidents that leave victims with severe disabilities and their uninsured employers have no financial means to pay them the damages awarded by the courts,” he added.
At the same time, he said, a legally mandated creation of a worker compensation fund has been pending for the past 21 years since it would be rendered insolvent from the onset because of the large number of uninsured employers.
According to Stylianou, the law making employer insurance mandatory was passed in 1997 but was only implemented in 2012. Initial response from uninsured employers was excellent but implementation was terminated soon afterwards by the labour ministry citing the workload.
“We have been addressing this issue for five years now to the current minister. All these years we have shown tolerance and understanding,” he added, urging the minister to immediately ensure effective implementation of the legislation and the protection of victims of industrial accidents.
Speaking of the insurance industry in general, Stylianou said that in 2017 the number of new policies overall rose by 6.4 per cent, worth €813m, compared with €764m worth of new policies in 2016. Within that figure the number of life insurance policies taken out rose 7.8 per cent in 2017. Insurance companies paid out a total of €486 million in claims last year.
Stylianou said that despite a difficult economic climate, insurance industry investments exceed €2.5 billion and have returned to pre-crisis levels.
“Insurance companies remain one of the most important institutional investors contributing significantly to the wider economy,” he said.