Insurance Companies Increase Reserves to Cover Mesothelioma Claims

Mesothelioma, the malignant disease caused by asbestos fibers lodging themselves in the lung’s lining after the individual is exposed, is a taxing affliction. As patients and their families fight the disease, their medical bills and insurance claims mount. New treatments offer some relief, but come with a cost. Mesothelioma claims approximately 3000 lives per year, a number which could easily be higher due to the fact that it is commonly misdiagnosed.

A recent Reuter’s article found that two insurance giants, Hartford Financial and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), increased the amount in their reserves set aside for asbestos patients in order to meet the need that comes with a rising number of claims.

According to the article, this rising number of claims seems to contradict waning trends observed by the medical world. The American Cancer Society reports that from 1999 to 2008, new cases of malignant mesothelioma have declined at an annual rate of 1.8 percent.

A Maimonides Medical Center oncologist, Kevin Becker, told Reuters he was “surprised to hear insurers are seeing more claims, because we think with the reduction of asbestos years back we’re starting to see a reduction in incidence of the disease.” This could be argued seeing that mesothelioma claims are typically sought well after initial asbestos exposure due to the cancers long latency period.

The insurance companies cite the success of more aggressive asbestos lawsuits across the country as the source of the mesothelioma claims increase. As these plaintiffs succeed, more are encouraged to pursue compensation.
Mesothelioma’s long latency period of 30 plus years requires insurance companies to make some estimates about how much money they reserve for asbestos claims. The bulk of asbestos exposure in the United States took place before the 1970s, but new cases continue to turn up in older adults exposed years prior. Still, many buildings still contain asbestos and if disrupted, it will continue to affect those who are exposed. For example, Reuters noted that the rescue workers involved in the 9/11 aftermath were exposed to high concentrations of asbestos.

A greater number of insurance claims only add to the amount of flexibility insurance companies must allow in their reserves to cover the needs of asbestos patients and their families.

Mesothelioma Claims & Eligibility

Have either you or a loved one been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, if so, you deserve to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Please contact Shrader & Associates, L.L.P. for a free, no obligation consultation to learn if you are eligible for compensation. A Shrader & Associates, L.L.P. mesothelioma attorney is available 24/7 to hear your story.

Analysis: New asbestos charges point to reserve woes
Reuters, Jul 28, 2011

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