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Lloyd’s of London, a 300-year-old insurance body, collects more than 33 billion pounds in gross premium every year. Its history goes back to the 17th century.
In 1906, when a major earthquake destroyed more than 80 percent of the Californian city of San Francisco, Lloyd paid out all the policyholder claims, irrespective of the terms of their policies. That cemented Lloyd’s reputation in the American market.
However, in the 1990s, this insurance behemoth was brought to its knees by a risk that had gone unnoticed for decades. After California earthquake episode, Lloyd started underwriting wide-ranging general liability cover to US businesses, including asbestos manufacturers.
Thousands of employees who had worked in asbestos plants were diagnosed with asbestosis, a deadly lung disease, twenty years later. These workers claimed the compensation from their former employer in 1990s. The employer, in turn, claimed it to the insurance companies like Lloyd who wrote the policy in the 1960s. Lloyd had failed to understand the nature of future risk and thus faced near bankruptcy.