In a letter Tuesday to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) voiced their opposition to the latest asbestos trust fund legislation drafted by Senator Specter.
“Throughout the process, PCI, NAMIC, and other representatives of the insurance industry have consistently reiterated the need for reforms that provide certainty and finality at an affordable cost. Unfortunately, our members believe the current version of the discussion draft will not achieve these goals,” the letter stated.
PCI and NAMIC are concerned that the bill exposes insurers to the skyrocketing legal costs of asbestos suits tried in the tort system and fails to provide any certainty to insurers that their payments into the fund would provide a final, equitable, and affordable solution to the asbestos crisis.
“The insurance industry had stated for years that a solution to the asbestos crisis must be fair, effective, final, and affordable,” PCI Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Carl Parks said. “Senator Specter’s most recent draft fails to meet our requirements in any of those areas. The potential costs of this bill lie not just in the $46 billion insurers will be responsible for providing the trust fund, but in the countless billions in legal costs insurers will spend on cases that the trust fund does not cover. The costs of this legislation to the industry are potentially devastating, and are unacceptable to our members. Unless substantial changes are made, we will strongly oppose it.”
“NAMIC will continue to work with Chairman Specter to address our concerns in the current draft,” said David Winston, NAMIC senior vice president-Federal Affairs. “Congress must address the current asbestos liability crisis by crafting legislation to ensure certainty and finality, affordability, effectiveness and efficiency. There are people that have been physically injured or have died from exposure to asbestos, but the current legal system instead prevents the truly injured from obtaining just compensation.”
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