Settlements to individuals exposed to asbestos in the US and related expenses will ultimately reach $200bn (£142bn), according to a study by Tillinghast-Towers Perrin.

Of this amount, the actuaries estimate that 39% of the costs will be retained by the asbestos defendants, such as manufactures, distributors, premise owners.

The rest will be borne with insurers – 31% will affect overseas insurers, including London, continental Europe, Asia, Australia and South America; and 30% will be borne by the US insurance industry.

Most US exposures to asbestos occurred before the 1970s when limits were implemented on exposure and use.

“Although most though that the new claims would have trailed off by now, the number of plaintiff filings has increased dramatically, with 50,000 to 60,000 claims filed against some defendants last year, compared to averages near 20,000 in the early to mid 1990s,” said Simon Sheaf, a consulting actuary.

A significant majority of new claims do not relate to individuals with mesothelioma or lung cancer, but rather to non-malignant diseases.

The propensity to sue for non-malignancies has clearly increased. More than 450,000 claims have been filed to date and Tillinghast-Towers Perrin projects that close to one million claims will be filed before litigation end.