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Insurance industry is top lawsuit magnet: Survey


The insurance industry is a magnet for lawsuits, a survey concludes. The average insurer is involved in nearly 1,700 pending cases this year--more than five times the average number faced by companies in other industries, says Houston-based law firm Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.

Fulbright questioned 422 companies for its annual litigation trends survey, including 311 in the United States, 45 in the United Kingdom and 66 in 22 other countries. Sixteen participants, or roughly 4% of the sample, were insurers, about two-thirds with revenues over $1 billion, 22% with revenues between $100 million and $999 million, and the rest with revenues below $100 million, the law firm reported. Other participants were in a dozen other industries ranging from financial services and energy to manufacturing, technology and health care, and had annual revenues ranging from less than $100 million to more than $1 billion.

The average respondent faced 305 pending lawsuits in the United States or abroad this year, the survey found. Insurers were the clear leaders in this category, though, with an average of 1,696 pending suits per company, more than five times the average tallies posted by the next most litigious industries: 364 for energy companies and 333 for financial services, according to the law firm.

Insurers also are most likely to be embroiled in class action lawsuits. Sixty-nine percent of the surveyed insurers reported being involved in at least one pending class action case vs. 65% for companies in the retail/wholesale industry, 51% for manufacturing companies and 43% for financial services firms, Fulbright reported.

Perhaps not surprisingly, insurers' litigation costs are among the highest. The 311 U.S. companies surveyed averaged $12 million in annual litigation costs, not including judgments and settlements. The participating insurers, though, averaged $36 million in litigation costs, topped only by engineering and construction firms, with $39 million, according to Fulbright.

Copies of Fulbright & Jaworski's "Third Annual Litigation Trends Survey Findings" are available on the law firm's Web site,