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Asbestos, environmental insurance claim losses up 12% in 2012: Best

Asbestos, environmental insurance claim losses up 12% in 2012: Best

Asbestos and environmental insurance claim losses increased in 2012 due to a rising number of asbestos-related lung cancer lawsuits, A.M. Best Co. Inc. said Monday.

The Oldwick, N.J.-based rating agency said annual asbestos and environmental insurance losses rose 12% last year, compared with a 31% decrease in 2011.

Best estimated that as of December 2012, the U.S. property/casualty industry faced $85 billion in net ultimate asbestos losses, up from the agency's 2011 estimate of $75 billion.

“This comes amid a rising number of lung cancer lawsuits related to asbestos and evolving mass tort exposures on the environmental side,” Best said in a statement.

Best estimates net environmental losses for the U.S. property/casualty market ultimately could reach $42 billion, unchanged from the previous year.

Domestic property/casualty insurers have funded about 90%, or $114 billion, of the estimated liabilities through a combination of paid losses and loss reserves, Best said in the statement.