Proponents of asbestos reform have a tremendous opportunity to make advances in many different arenas, Kenneth Schloman, Washington counsel for the Alliance of American Insurers, told
participants of the sixth annual Cambridge Reinsurance Symposium, this week in Philadelphia.
“Federal legislation will be introduced that, while not as comprehensive as past efforts, would move reform forward. This is an
opportunity that the business community must pursue,” Schloman said.
Advocates of reform should better coordinate the development of a
legislative, political and/or strategic defense, according to Schloman. “The business and insurance communities cannot afford to limit themselves to one particular effort to reform the asbestos litigation system. We have to look not only at a federal solution, but also at opportunities in problem states and the courts,” he said.
The volume of asbestos-related litigation is on the rise and the cost
of such claims has forced about 30 U.S. companies into bankruptcy.
Several prominent actuarial firms have pegged ultimate asbestos costs for the U.S. insurance industry at a range of $55 billion-$70 billion. Total costs for the U.S. economy, including costs borne by non-U.S. reinsurers and uninsured amounts, are estimated at $200 billion-$275 billion.
Asbestos was once considered a “miracle mineral.” A naturally occurring substance, its versatility led to its use as a component in numerous parts (e.g., building materials such as insulation, roofing and
flooring, brake and boiler linings, wire insulation, gaskets and ship
building – especially during World War II).