New research shows the total future UK cost of asbestos-related diseases is between £8bn and £20bn.
The research, by the Actuarial Profession, shows the UK insurance industry is expected to face half this cost (£4-10bn).
These estimates are based on new data collected by the Actuarial Profession from all major UK insurance companies – the first time the insurance industry has trusted an outside organisation with such sensitive information.
Julian Lowe of the Actuarial Profession, who chaired the working party which carried out the research, said: “Asbestos is certainly not yesterday’s problem – its effects will continue to affect insurance companies and healthcare providers in the West for decades to come.
“Perhaps of more concern are the appalling demographic and social consequences of asbestos manufacture and use that will inevitably be seen in the developing world over the next 30-50 years. Urgent action therefore needs to be taken by the international community to help those nations learn the lessons of Western Europe and North America.”