Marsh warns organisations of ‘hidden’ mesothelioma claims risk

London,

Marsh, the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser, is advising organisations to examine their potential exposures to asbestos-related claims ahead of a predicted peak in 2016.  Marsh’s advice follows its publication of new research on actual mesothelioma cases before the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in London which highlights the range of UK occupations and industries affected by diseases such as mesothelioma.

The research reveals that only one-quarter (27.5%) of the claims analysed were found to involve organisations operating in the mechanical, electrical and process engineering industries. The rest of the cases examined emanated from claims in the chemicals industry (11%); construction (7.5%); metals and minerals (6.5%); and the electronic products, electronics and IT hardware sector (6.5%). The final settlement values in the cases reviewed ranged between £50,000 and £200,000.

Over a third (36%) of the cases examined were from 1956 to 1960, making it likely that initial exposure would have been 40 years prior to the effective start of a claim. This indicator, supported by data from the Health and Safety Executive which indicates UK mesothelioma claims are expected to peak in 2016, suggests that it is likely that affected employees will have been exposed to asbestos between the late 1960s and mid 1970s.

Marsh’s research also suggests that widespread publicity surrounding mesothelioma claims is impacting on the number being made by dependants which, at 47%, is almost as many as the number instigated by principals (53%).

Marsh’s new White Paper, Mesothelioma Claims, which was produced in conjunction with the University of East Anglia (UEA), examines 15% of the court cases commenced between September 2006 and October 2007 in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in London and assigned to Senior Master Whitaker, the Senior Master of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, Queen’s Bench Division, Royal Courts of Justice, and the Queen’s Remembrancer.

Ian Pelham, who oversaw the research project with UEA and is a Managing Consultant at InSolutions, part of Marsh’s Risk Consulting Practice, commented: “Marsh’s research highlights that few, if any, industries are immune to the  possibility of mesothelioma claims arising from past employment practices.

“Mergers and acquisitions in the second half of the 20th Century, followed by a contraction back to ‘core business’, has resulted in many organisations now being unaware of their potential exposures to asbestos-related claims.

“With the fast track approach to claims, championed by Senior Master Whitaker, in place in the courts companies now have a very limited time window to locate their legacy employers’ liability coverage, once they received notice of a potential claim.

“If companies have not yet investigated their potential future liabilities, it would be prudent to do so now. They should ensure that they review and understand their corporate histories and that, where available, they catalogue copies of their old employers’ liability policies and store them safely. If a company becomes aware of a potential gap in its insurance record relating to a site that might give rise to a mesothelioma claim, it is advised to investigate whether the insurers from that period can be found.”

Terry Kendrick, MBA Programme Director, Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia, said: “Supporting Marsh with data analysis on this project has provided real insight for our MBA students studying strategic risk management. The startling issues around the potential growth and value in mesothelioma claims have provided a real and vital case for them to study.”

Marsh’s White Paper, Mesothelioma Claims, includes commentary from Senior Master Whitaker, Richard Mattick, of Counsel with the London office of law firm Covington & Burling LLP, and a case study of Polestar Group, one of the UK’s largest printers of magazines and newspaper supplements. To obtain a copy, please contact vivian.x.wong@marsh.com or visit: www.marsh.co.uk.

About Marsh

Marsh, the world’s leading insurance broker and risk adviser, has over 23,000 employees and provides advice and transactional capabilities to clients in over 100 countries. Marsh is a unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), a global professional services firm with approximately 53,000 employees and annual revenue exceeding $11 billion. MMC also is the parent company of Guy Carpenter, the risk and reinsurance specialist; Kroll, the risk consulting firm; Mercer, the provider of HR and related financial advice and services; and Oliver Wyman, the management consultancy. MMC’s stock (ticker symbol: MMC) is listed on the New York, Chicago and London stock exchanges. MMC’s Web Site is www.mmc.com. Marsh’s Web site is www.marsh.com.

About the University of East Anglia

The University of East Anglia was founded in 1963 and directly employs around 3,000 full-time staff, has over 14,000 students and an annual income of some £170m. It is estimated to be responsible for indirect employment of some 3,300 people outside the institution and generates direct and indirect economic impact of around £420m. In the latest Research Assessment Exercise, over 50 per cent of the university’s research activity was deemed to be world leading or internationally excellent with 87% in total being of international standing. Thanks to the university and its Norwich Research Park partners, the city has the fourth greatest concentrations of ‘most highly cited researchers’ in the UK, after London, Oxford and Cambridge.