Equitas To Toughen Line on Asbestos Claims

Equitas, the reinsurance vehicle set up by Lloyd’s to cover the potentially huge liabilities for environmental and asbestos claims, reacted to recent estimates of increasingly large losses from damages due to asbestos related illnesses (see related story in National News) with a pledge to take a tougher line on payment demands in an effort to eliminate unwarranted claims.

London’s Financial Times quoted Glenn Brace, Equitas’ head of asbestos, pollution and health hazard claims, as saying, “This is one step to limit abuses in what has become an asbestos litigation industry. We hope that other insurers and defendant companies will take similar steps.”

Equitas, and other U.K. based insurers, have indicated that, as of June 1, any asbestos related claim must be supported by sufficient medical evidence as to the cause of the condition and that a direct relation must be established with a defendant’s product before a payment will be made.

The new tougher line is a reaction to the sharp increase in cases in the U.S. seeking recovery for asbestos related illnesses under product liability policies, many written years ago before the peril of asbestos became known. Insurers site instances of abuse by lawyers seeking million dollar settlements in class action litigation, despite evidence that many members of the alleged class have sustained no asbestos related injuries.