The Association of British Insurers tracing scheme should be scrapped in favour of an independent scheme, Thompsons Solicitors has told the Department of Work and Pensions.

Thompsons' submission to the DWP's review of certain provisions of the Employers Liability Compulsory Insurance regulations calls on the government to take the opportunity of the review to require insurers to provide pre-1999 policy details and to create an independent and efficient system for tracing insurer details.

Tom Jones, Thompsons' director of policy and public affairs said: "The ABI scheme fails to do what it says on the tin and is hardly worth having without substantial reform. Real reform won't happen as it isn't ultimately in the commercial interests of the insurers to be identified. It is ineffective where it hurts people most, in long tail disease claims where the terminally ill have limited time left".

Thompsons' paper includes an example of the failure of the ABI scheme to trace an insurer.

"The ABI scheme should be scrapped and replaced by a statutory independent scheme with teeth. Insurers have the information claimants need and they should be made to live up to their responsibilities. It should be run under the auspices of the Compensation Act regulator or the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU)," Tom Jones added.

Thompsons says there is no evidence that setting up such a database would be cost prohibitive. The savings made from some of the other proposals in the consultation paper and from closing the ABI scheme could be ploughed into resourcing the new database.

The new scheme would also create its own income stream as the number of claims would inevitably rise as a result of it being quicker and easier to identify insurers. That means CRU recovery will increase and claims under the Pneumoconiosis Act 1979 will be reduced.

Read Thompsons Solicitors' full response.