Dec 17 Insurance rating firm A.M. Best on Monday
raised to $85 billion its estimate for losses that U.S. property
and casualty insurers can ultimately expect from lawsuits
brought by victims of asbestos exposure.
Best, the major rater of insurance companies, raised its
estimated losses by $10 billion, saying that property and
casualty insurers are incurring about $2 billion in losses each
year while paying out $2.5 billion.
"With no end to these losses in sight ... it is clear that
the asbestos problem will persist for many years to come," the
New Jersey-based rating company wrote in a report.
Because it was once widely used as a fire-proofing material
in construction, workers exposed to asbestos have driven a wave
of litigation seeking damages.
Awards and settlements have grown higher as attorneys have
focused in recent years on representing the sickest patients,
such as those with the lethal cancer mesothelioma.
Best wrote that it made no change to its $42 billion
estimate for environmental losses tied to asbestos, saying these
have averaged less than $600 million a year since 2006.