Canadian Underwriter

U.K. asbestos situation could lead to $22.4 billion in claims

November 3, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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The total cost of asbestos-related disease in the U.K. could be 8-10 billion pounds (CDN$18-45 billion), with insurers shelling out 4-10 billion pounds (CDN$9-22.4 billion) of this loss, according to a new study.
The study, released by the U.K. Actuarial Profession, says that the majority of claims will come from mesothelioma claims, where claims are set to rise over the next decade. Conversely, claims from asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases should decline as a result of declining use of asbestos in the U.K. since the 1970s.
Overall, over the next three decades, insurers could face 80,000-200,000 new claims as a result of asbestos-related diseases.
The study is unique in that the data was collected from all major U.K. insurer, and also in its inclusion of diseases other than mesothelioma in projections, an Actuarial Profession statement notes.
“Asbestos is certainly not yesterday’s problem its effects will continue to affect insurance companies and healthcare providers in the West for decades to come,” says Julian Lowe, chair of the Actuarial Profession committee who produced the study.
In fact, the problem could be even worse in developing countries, where asbestos use is on the rise. While asbestos use in North America and Western Europe is on the decline, it is on the upswing in Asia and parts of Eastern Europe in fact, more asbestos is being used in Asia now than in the U.S. 30-40 years ago. “Perhaps of more concern are the appalling demographic and social consequences of asbestos manufacture and use that will inevitably be seen in the developing world over the next 30-50 years,” says Lowe. “Urgent action therefore needs to be taken by the international community to help those nations learn the lessons of Western Europe and North America.”

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