While the insurance industry grapples with the issue of fair compensation for asbestos victims, a new vulnerability may be lurking around the corner.
Robert Blanco, senior actuary at GE Insurance Solutions, told an audience in New York recently that conditions exist that could expose the workers’ compensation markets to escalating asbestos claims.
Blanco addressed the 3rd Annual Workers Compensation ExecuSummit, which is billed as a “day of high-impact sessions with a 360-degree view of emerging issues, strategic intelligence, case studies, examples of success, trends and developments in Workers’ Compensation Insurance … specifically designed for insurance carriers.”
“We are moving into uncharted waters with respect to asbestos compensation, and workers compensation could be affected,” said Blanco. “For example, if the FAIR Act becomes law, what’s to keep claimants who are unsatisfied with their Fund award from also filing a workers comp claim against their employer?”
Blanco told the audience of insurance industry professionals that this type of double-dipping represents a major paradigm shift in the approach to asbestos compensation, with workers’ comp carriers thrust into the middle of the action.
“Traditionally, workers’ comp has been largely spared from asbestos claims due to statutes of limitations, smaller benefits and subrogation,” said Blanco. “But we see factors on the horizon such as refined medical testing and increased life expectancy and are left to conclude that the pool of potential claimants and overall costs could very well grow.”
Blanco noted that the insurance industry has been rocked by asbestos and environmental claims for decades.
After a brief respite, claims have reportedly escalated further in just the last five years. Whether or not the workes’r comp line of insurance coverage continues to be relatively immune remains unclear.
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