Asbestos claims, and insurance coverage litigation arising from such claims, have been around for decades. Members of Reed Smith’s Insurance Recovery Group have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of this insurance practice — advocating for policyholders and obtaining billions from insurance companies for our clients. With decades of experience, our group helped pioneer this area through its representation of Pittsburgh Corning Corporation in asbestos bodily injury and property damage claims, to critical involvement in negotiating the so-called Wellington Agreement, and founding the Asbestos Claims Facility in 1985. Since that time, we have continued to be at the forefront of this practice, advocating on behalf of varied policyholders (e.g., manufacturers, distributors or installers of asbestos-containing products, including thermal insulation friction products, surfacing materials, and gaskets) in insurance coverage counseling, negotiations of coverage-in-place agreements and settlements, alternative dispute resolution, litigation, and bankruptcy proceedings.
Asbestos litigation continues to be active. In fact, this area is evolving with new types of products and new categories of defendants. Our international presence and years of experience have resulted in a highly developed focus on every conceivable issue in asbestos insurance coverage, including trigger, number of occurrences, allocation, self-insured retentions, aggregate limits, exhaustion, corporate successor rights, and “lost” policies. One valuable resource is our team of experienced insurance archaeology and allocation analysts. This team is particularly beneficial in asbestos claims, which, like other toxic torts, are often long-tail claims.
Because the stakes are so high—defense and indemnity costs incurred for a single asbestos defendant can be billions of dollars—insurance companies will litigate even weak defenses to coverage. Where, on the other hand, the insurance companies agree to pay for all or a portion of the defense, the policyholder must ensure that the companies hire competent counsel to defend or settle claims that have real potential to exceed the limits of insurance. Reed Smith's Insurance Recovery Group provides its policyholder clients with the required advocacy prior to and, when necessary, upon notice of a claim.