GA ready for asbestos claims: Australian court ruling leaves insurer liable

GENERAL Accident said yesterday that it had fully provided against any asbestos claims it may receive from CSR, an Australian sugar and building materials company.

It was responding to a ruling by the Supreme Court of New South Wales that it is liable for claims made upon an asbestos mining subsidiary of CSR, which supplied the asbestos to customers in the US. General Accident is exposed through its purchase of New Zealand Insurance, whose subsidiaries provided public liability insurance to CSR between 1955 and 1978.

Bob Scott, a GA general manager, said: 'We are fully reserved for all claims that may occur. We've known all about this for years. We have got reinsurance in place at relatively low levels. It's not a great event from where we sit.' General Accident shares closed 5p lower at 687p.

Earlier this month a Mississippi court awarded dollars 2m damages against CSR to four American litigants. The case was a 'common issues' trial, which means the judgment could support the claims of a further 6,700 plaintiffs. CSR is appealing.