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Insurers plan to better inform victims

Published on 20/07/2005

20 July 2005

BRUSSELS — Belgian insurance firms have reached a deal on a disaster plan in which victims will be immediately notified about the amount of compensation and payment timeframes.

The plan stems from the gas explosion disaster at Ghislenghien (Gellingen) last year and the fact some of the victims have not been paid damages or still don’t know if they will receive compensation.

Insurers said the plan is similar to the deal agreed on after a massive chain collision in Deinze in 1996, newspaper ‘ De Standaard’ reported on Wednesday.

Because it was not immediately clear who was responsible for that accident, insurers decided to pay damages to every one of their insured victims and to investigate at a later date which insurance company should front the final bill.

However, branch association Assuralia said the Deinze car accident plan cannot be simply applied to every disaster situation.

This is because the chain collision was a simpler scenario then the Ghislenghien explosion because it only involved car insurance. The gas disaster involved workplace accidents, fire and also liability insurance.

But despite the difficulties, insurers agreed in the event of a new disaster to immediately inform victims and family about compensation and when it will be paid.

Under pressure from Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Assuralia and gas network administrator Fluxys deposited EUR 2.2 million in a compensation fund called the Gellingen Foundation after the gas explosion.

The foundation was set up to pay victims who were not insured and Verhofstadt said on Tuesday the fund will continue to exist because some dossiers are still open and there are cash reserves still in the fund.

The foundation will become a permanent organisation to be used in the event of future disasters.

A total of 24 people were killed and 132 others injured in the massive Ghislenghien gas explosion on 30 July 2004. The explosion occurred as work was being done to repair a leaking gas pipe.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news