The article on High 5 risks (October, Legal Report) seems to have missed the most important challenge. This is the insurers inability to see the financial consequences of complacency when faced with the obvious threats mentioned.

They are not new, but totally ignored. It was interesting to see mentioned, the threat of toxic mould, linked to asbestos. I have for some years been accused of scare mongering regarding these two issues, but the reality is that insurers generally do not believe that mould is a problem.

I'm not sure if this is because they haven't paid out on toxic mould claims, because there has yet to be case law established, or because they think it isn't covered by insurance.

US insurers felt the same, but now pay out more in mould claims than asbestos - and their water damage claim costs have rocketed by 500%. The unfortunate reality is that if they accepted the problem they could establish preventative measures.

With regard to asbestos I believe the new legislation coupled to existing legal requirements have and will cause insurers to wonder why they have ignored the long tail claim issues and potential liability from present claims.

The use of nominated contractors to undertake restoration following fire or flood damage has left them directly responsible for contractor actions. Where preventable toxic mould develops, or asbestos contamination from unlicensed decontamination procedures are suspected or proven, insurers may have to assess the sixth challenge - solvency.

With a very large proportion of even domestic premises containing asbestos from artex to toilet seats, few fire or flood restoration projects have even assessed the possibility of contamination and debris or that fibres may be very easy to identify years after the project was finished.

With many water damaged homes dried to a price and not a standard, the potential for toxic mould is unfortunately high and, whether alive or dead, very easy to identify. The future for tort is high and the only ingredient missing appears to be the ignorance of the public & legal profession.

Jeff Charlton

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