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Asbestos Claims Not Catastrophic

A new wave of lawsuits by workers who have been exposed to asbestos but who show no sign of illness may impact the insurance industry to a much lesser extent than some analysts have speculated. Matthew Coyle, a director for S&P's Financial Services Department in New York, said that the agency expects only a modest number of downgrades to occur as a direct result of increased asbestos exposure.

Mr. Coyle added that S&P believes the industry's incremental reserve requirements, on a present-value basis, "are at the lower end" of the range of the $20 billion to $ 40 billion estimated in studies published by several industry observers.


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