This article was co-written with William Wilt, President of Assured Research, a research and advisory firm dedicated to delivering highly customized, actionable research and analysis to insurance and investment professionals.
This article was co-written with William Wilt, President of Assured Research, a research and advisory firm dedicated to delivering highly customized, actionable research and analysis to insurance and investment professionals. It was adapted from their February 2018 briefing.
Since the human genome was mapped more than a decade ago, and with the exponential increases in computing power since the early 2000s, the recent pace of scientific and medical developments has been nothing short of transformative. Those developments are reshaping everything from medical treatments for advanced cancer diagnoses to courtroom litigation tactics. It won’t be long before the breakthroughs reported daily around the world wash onto the shores of the P/C insurance industry – which has, for the most part, been an island of stasis amidst all this change. Not much longer!
Genetic testing…did you know?
Genetic testing can determine whether a claimant has a genetic predisposition to developing a cancer or other disease alleged to be caused by exposure to a toxin while on the job. Conversely, testing might also be used to determine if a toxin or chemical in a policyholder’s product caused injury.
Genetic testing can determine a claimant’s susceptibility to a toxin-induced injury. Maybe a policyholder/defendant acted reasonably to mitigate risk, but the claimant had a genetic predisposition to the injury, independent of any exposure. Alternatively, under some circumstances, the claimant might have been genetically susceptible to the effects of the toxin based on his or her genomic profile. The Damages could still be awarded but perhaps the size of damages and reputational damage to the insured could be blunted if the ‘susceptibility argument’ was credibly advanced.
Insurers need to get on board with the scientific revolution, or risk being run over by sophisticated and well-funded plaintiff counsel using science as their spearhead.
Genetic testing may, under certain circumstances, be able to determine if a particular product was the root cause of an alleged injury. Based on data gathered by consulting firm KCIC, asbestos plaintiffs name an average of 66 defendants in each asbestos lawsuit. It’d be nice to have a credible and legally defensible way for insurers to extricate their policyholders from that list.
Health insurers are creating policies to identify policyholders with a certain cancer predisposition syndrome associated a high lifetime cumulative risk of cancer and a tendency for multiple cancers in affected individuals. According to the filing:
“The purpose of genetic testing of individuals [suspected to have the syndrome] is to establish the genetic diagnosis  to inform management decisions such as prophylactic mastectomies in women, avoidance of radiotherapy, cancer surveillance, and aid in reproductive planning.”
Two examples…New Jersey and Canada
We realize this can seem esoteric, so here are two practical cases underway as we write this note:
Rating by broad class plans (age, gender, marital status) was good enough until the utility of credit scores was discovered. Auto pricing was then partially customized, but it won’t be long, we’d guess, before information gathered through telematics allows insurers who have invested in their future to cherry-pick risk pools and price auto insurance at the individual (or, nearly so) level.
So too, settling liability claims using the standard tool kit has been good enough (more or less) for decades. But what benefits might accrue to the first insurer that can describe to its clients the use of scientific tools that could extricate them from complex, time-consuming, and expensive multi-party litigation?
Autonomous and semi-autonomous cars currently represent a tiny fraction of the registered motor vehicles on America’s roadways. And yet, most can agree that it would be short-sighted for a management team not to have begun strategizing and scenario-planning for a transportation future that looks materially different than it does today.
We don’t think the early stages of a scientific awakening need to be expensive. Insurers with an emerging risk committee or a risk manager can task them with developing a report and, possibly, an action plan. Insurers need to get on board with the scientific revolution – or get run over!
Download a complimentary copy of our white paper: The Litigator’s Guide to Using Genomics in a Toxic Tort Case
On Wednesday July 8, 2020, Dr. David Schwartz of Innovative Science Solutions presented at the IADC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting on a panel titled The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom. A complimentary copy of the panel presentation is now available for download. Read more
Dr. David Schwartz of Innovative Science Solutions will be presenting at the IADC 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting on a panel titled The Use of Genetic Testing in the Courtroom. Read more
Plaintiff experts having been asserting for decades that all mesotheliomas must be linked to some asbestos exposure. Indeed, this has led to the erroneous (but widespread) view that mesothelioma is a signature disease, only caused by asbestos exposure. Read more
The journey to scientific and commercial success is often complex and always critical, if you are looking for an expert partner to help steer you to confident solutions, contact us todayContact us