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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Increased life expectancy will impact catastrophic claims, warns lawyer

Increases in life expectancy will have a “massive impact” on insurers’ liability in cases of catastrophic personal injury claims.


A car crash © Shutterstock
Increases in life expectancy can have a massive impact on injury claims © Shutterstock

Elaine Chapman, partner at Weightmans, told an event in London organised by the International Underwriting Association that longer working lives would increase the value of claims for loss of earnings.

“Basically it’s [longer working lives] adding to the cost, because the severely injured claimant needs substantial care for many years,” she said.

Chapman said in calculating losses to the injured party it was critical to consider their “mobility”, which is the most important factor affecting their ability to work.

Chapman advised firms to get a health expert involved “at an early stage” to help assess injuries and long-term care needs. She said health care was almost the largest part of a catastrophe claim, accounting for 60% of claim costs.

She said expertise from medical professionals could reduce insurers’ payments in the long term. 

Chapman said she had seen cases where proper care had been given to the injured individual and as a result settlements were substantially reduced.

She added: “The message is just be very, very careful, when you have your experts, don’t take the risk of penny pinching, suggest an unrealistic model, that is basically going to cost you in a long term.”