Overall, the insurance industry is likely to lose money based on asbestos liability claims. The industry as a whole was not prepared when the shocking truth about illnesses and deaths caused by asbestos came to light. In classic form, however, new players are finding ways to turn a profit from the loss and pain of others. Most insurance companies have funded for outstanding asbestos liabilities. Those funds have attracted investors who realize that they can make a killing by delaying or avoiding payouts in asbestos cases. These investors have worked to make it harder for people suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses to get the compensation they deserve. They will use any tactic to keep that money for themselves.
Recent headlines have targeted the people who represent asbestos victims. While it would be unsurprising to find a few bad apples among the thousands of people who work to protect the victims of asbestos, it should not change the public’s perception of what is at stake. Businesses used asbestos despite knowing of the dangers it posed to anyone exposed. They used it because it was cheap. They used it because it was convenient. They used it because they believed that the profit would outweigh the cost of killing people through asbestos exposure. If the insurance industry and these companies are successful in changing the narrative surrounding asbestos, the impact on mesothelioma sufferers and their families could be devastating.
Changes to bankruptcy laws led to a wave of Chapter 11 filings for asbestos companies a few years back. The result of that has been to short-change many victims of these companies who find that there are not adequate resources to cover their medical bills, let alone the full cost of their illness. New laws may well be proposed that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for people who become sick from asbestos to get full compensation. Fans of justice or corporate responsibility should keep a wary eye on lawmakers as the insurance lobby leans on them for favorable rules.
Source: Business Insurance, “Outstanding asbestos claims drag on insurance industry earnings,” by Matthew Lerner, 1 February 2015