House of Lords case could cost insurers £28.6bn in claims

The House of Lords will today debate a bill to restore the right to compensation for pleural plaques sufferers in England and Wales, which could cost insurers £28.6bn, Bloomberg reports.

Insurers including Aviva, Axa, Zurich and RSA, who are appealing against a similar law in Scotland, will be hit.

Fitch Ratings and AM Best said the right to claim may force insurers to increase reserves. Aviva, the U.K.’s biggest property and casualty insurer, said in March it strengthened asbestos reserves by £304m, and Zurich yesterday said it boosted reserves by $200m in 2009.

The potential cost to insurers of changing the law is between £3.7bn and £28.6bn, reflecting “the uncertainty regarding the potential number of claims,” according to a Ministry of Justice report dated July 2008.