A grandfather who contracted an asbestos-related cancer has won £140,000 compensation, even though an initial attempt to trace the insurers of his former employers proved unsuccessful.

Ronnie Cadwallader, 76, was exposed to asbestos when he worked as a welder and metal worker for two firms in the 1950s. While carrying out maintenance and repairs, he had to strip the potentially deadly substance from pipes, turbines and boilers.

Mr Cadwallader had been retired for some time when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lining of the lungs, which can develop many years after the initial exposure.

Two employers were responsible for the health and safety failures that resulted in Mr Cadwallader being exposed to asbestos fibres, but unfortunately both had gone out of business and it was difficult to track down their insurance companies. An application to do so was made via the tracking scheme operated by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), a trade association which represents the collective interests of the British insurance industry, but this was unsuccessful. However, when a second application was made using the ABI scheme, this did produce information on one of the insurance companies responsible for handling Mr Cadwallader’s claim.

An offer of compensation was made by the insurance company but this was rejected as being too low. Before the case came to trial, however, the company made a revised offer of £140,000 and this was accepted.

In claims of this kind, it can sometimes be difficult to find out information about the insurance company that provided the employer’s liability insurance, especially when the company has long since gone out of business, but in this case perseverance paid off.