Asbestos lung cancer identified as key liability risk

New IUA research highlights future legislative developments

The role of asbestos in causing lung cancer is identified as a crucial question in future development of long-tail liability claims, according to new research from the International Underwriting Association (IUA).

A growing legal focus on asbestos risk has prompted the publication of a report by the association’s Liability Underwriters’ Group: ‘Asbestos Diseases and Insurance – an underwriters guide to recent legal developments’.

It states that insurers currently receive far fewer claims for asbestos lung cancer than mesothelioma, partly as a result of uncertainty over causation. But this issue is likely to be addressed soon in the Court of Appeal. Meanwhile, the body of law relating to mesothelioma continues to grow.

Chris Jones, the IUA’s Director of Market Services, said: “There have been a number of landmark legal cases in recent years affecting asbestos risk. As a result, IUA members have been keen to revisit this area of law and insurance practice.

“Our new guide is designed to provide an overview of current legislative and common law positions relating to asbestos diseases, particularly mesothelioma. It also discusses future developments relating to asbestos lung cancer which could have significant implications for both primary liability and insurance cover.”

The report has been drafted for general liability practitioners, but is likely to be of wider interest for other classes of business. It includes a timeline of UK asbestos legislative developments, asbestos claims statistics and an assessment of the approach to such risks in other business classes.

Asbestos is discussed in the context of both employers’ liability and public liability, together with the operation of policy exclusions and reinsurance responses. Repeated statutory interventions by the UK Parliament and devolved legislatures are also summarised, for example the Compensation Act 2006.