Asbestos Liability: A Growing Topic in the Property/Casualty Insurance Industry

The dictionary defines the word “asbestos” as: “a heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral that can be woven into fabrics, and is used in fire-resistant and insulating materials such as brake linings.” The International Risk Management Institute further defines it as “A mineral fiber that can pollute air or water and cause cancer or asbestosis when inhaled.”

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies asbestos as such a hazard that they have banned its use in manufacturing and construction altogether. It has been known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and even asthma. Asbestos-related cases are some of the longest and most expensive litigation claims being paid out in insurance history.

Since many of today’s liability insurance plans exclude coverage for asbestos-related claims and the number of claims relating to asbestos continue to rise, how can insurance agents help their business customers protect themselves?

  1. Read the policy. Is asbestos specifically excluded? What kind of options do you have to add coverage for asbestos to the policy? Make sure the customer is covered, checking for workers’ compensation coverage and employer liability. Pollution liability insurance policies often provide protection from a variety of environmental and non-environmental claims, whereas the traditional business policy would not.
  2. Know the site. If the job site or the building was built before 1981, it should be inspected for asbestos to protect the business and your customer.
  3. Don’t try to DIY. Once asbestos is discovered, it should be left alone. Even if a business owner is not legally required to use one, a professional asbestos removal crew should be used for cleanup and removal to reduce liability for the business owner.
  4. Protect yourself from contamination. Asbestos fibers are incredibly small and can travel on shoes, equipment, clothing and gloves. If the customer absolutely insists on removing it themselves, they must take certain precautions. For one, asbestos should NEVER be put out with regular trash. A professional is the best bet for removal and disposal.
  5. Know the liability for secondary exposure. Secondary exposure results from exposure to someone who has been working with asbestos, and the law regarding employer liability for secondary exposure is evolving. Recent cases in California and Illinois have eliminated or reduced the liability for employers in secondary exposure cases, but liability varies widely and depends on the law where the suit is filed.

Employer responsibility for asbestos exposure is a controversial and ever-evolving issue, with many claims resulting from exposure as far back as 40 years. Help your customers know their risk and get them set up for success with the proper coverage.

About AmSuisse

Formed in 2013, AmSuisse, Inc. has quickly distinguished itself as a wholesale operation that specializes in working very closely with our agents and broker partners to develop responsive, individualized service for each client. Our unparalleled writing support, industry-specific expertise, marketing support, responsive proposals and quotes, strong customer service, and strong relationships with our carrier partners have all helped us to provide the best possible coverage for our clients. To learn more about our available coverage, contact us today at (800) 485-0229 to speak with one of our representatives.