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Car insurance under threat over airbags.

MOTORISTS are disconnecting their life-saving air bags because they fear they could wreck their hearing.

But the move - to avoid making tinnitus and other hearing problems even worse - invalidates their car insurance, drivers were warned last night

Tinnitus involves hearing noises, such as buzzing or ringing, in the ear.

Some victims become so confused or distressed they commit suicide.

And any ear-piercing sound such as an air-bag inflating can make the problem permanently worse.

They make a bang of 132 decibels - twice as loud as a rifle shot.

But insurance firms are threatening to revoke the policy of drivers who turn off their air-bags.

They say disconnecting them increases the risk of serious injury - and a bumper insurance payout.

Campaigners are demanding the insurers change their minds.

Some air-bags include switches so they can be de-activated easily. Others can only be stopped by tampering with a screwdriver.

Marjorie Hooper, chairman of pressure group Tinnitus Action, said: "Tinnitus sufferers can be desperate enough to turn the air-bags off.

"The condition really can make life a misery.

"Insurance firms should be showing sympathy, not treating us in this shoddy way."

But Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers, said: "Air-bags are safety devices and removing it means tampering with the vehicle."
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 11, 1998
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