Asbestos Insurance Crisis of the Late 1970s and Early 1980s
An unusual phenomenon in the insurance industry occurred in the time frame above. An uncountable number of claims emerged for asbestos injuries suffered by workers and others exposed to asbestos. Insurers recognized the scope of the crisis, and the insurance market for liability coverage for asbestos producers disappeared. The usual practice for insurers at this time was to issue their policies with an asbestos exclusion. I was very active in the marketplace then and saw this whole episode from start to finish.
The asbestos crisis was so severe that the effect on some asbestos producing companies was bankruptcy. But today the number of asbestos claimants is still increasing. The financial resources of the bankrupt companies and other asbestos producers have disappeared, so plaintiff attorneys are attacking the policy asbestos exclusions from the 70’s and 80’s. As a result, asbestos litigation involving insurance still abounds. Insurance policy terms and conditions require familiarity under usual circumstances and the asbestos crisis made this requirement especially challenging. Those who were active in the marketplace at that time have the experience and knowledge to explain in clear terms what was transpiring and what the terms and conditions of asbestos liability policies meant when they were negotiated.