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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

CNA Takes An Asbestos Hit the Market Did Not Expect; More “Adverse Development”

An August 3, 2015 story in Insurance Insider reports a notable new $150 million second quarter charge taken by CNA for asbestos litigation. The full story is behind a paywall, here.  Last year, CNA took a $479 million charge.

According to the story, “the market” did not see this coming. Perhaps “the market” needs to figure out that asbestos litigation is far from over, and start digging into the details, such as the multi-disciplinary white paper a group of us published last month on asbestos science and law.

Here’s the bottom line part of the CNA and Berkshire story for those in asbestos litigation:

“US-listed carrier CNA saw operating profits halve in the second quarter after a retroactive reinsurance charge relating to its legacy asbestos deal with Berkshire Hathaway impacted the company’s bottom line.

Second quarter operating income totalled $132mn, or $0.49 a share – well below Wall Street analysts’ forecasts of $0.81 a share. The result was also significantly short of the $272mn, or $1.00 a share, of profits generated in the prior-year period.

This came as the ultimate expected loss on the CNA asbestos portfolio reinsured by Berkshire Hathaway in 2010 widened from $2.49bn to $2.64bn. The carrier incurred an additional $150mn of adverse development during the second quarter, which will ultimately be footed by Berkshire Hathaway.

This is $419mn more than the $2.2bn consideration that CNA paid to Berkshire Hathaway in 2010, when it agreed a loss portfolio transfer that saw the conglomerate accept $1.6bn of net liabilities and any deterioration up to an aggregate reinsurance limit of $4.0bn.”

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