In separate announcements, InsurTech Praedicat and Verisk’s catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide and unveiled changes to key products recently. Praedicat updated the litigation tracker in its software product CoMeta. The news from AIR involved updates to the firm’s terrorism model.
Praedicat added three new mass litigations to CoMeta’s litigation tracker—PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), toxic baby food (heavy metals in baby food), and paraquat (an herbicide alleged to cause Parkinson’s disease).
The new mass litigations will be added to the tracker’s ongoing coverage of COVID-19 personal injury litigation, Praedicat said, singling out PFAS as the largest litigation of the four.
• The most famous PFAS chemicals are perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which was used to create Scotchgard, and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used to create Teflon. While these chemicals were phased out of production in recent years in the United States, scientists have been raising concerns that a set of replacement chemicals continue to have health and environmental impacts.
PFOA, PFOS, and their replacement chemicals with similar structure constitute the PFAS chemicals.
Their persistence in the environment has caused them to be dubbed “the forever chemicals.” They have been used in a wide range of products including food packaging, firefighting foam, cosmetics, building products and more.
“There are 5,153 complaints, filed in 40 courts, naming 193 companies, spanning 82 industries, over 22 years,” according to David Loughran, Senior Vice President and Cofounder of Praedicat.
• Toxic baby food litigation began in February after a Congressional report found elevated levels of heavy metals in baby food. The resulting litigation now includes more than 120 cases involving prominent baby food manufacturers along with supermarket chains.
• The Paraquat litigation, which primarily involves workers with Parkinson’s disease exposed to the herbicide, began in 2017, but has recently grown to 116 cases after the first cases were allowed to proceed past initial hearings earlier this year.
Praedicat’s emerging risk solution is intended to provide insight on emerging risks from early identification through litigation.
The litigation tracker was launched in 2020 with COVID-19 liability, which continues to grow and develop and today includes 650 cases against 530 defendants. The tracker monitors complaints filed in all U.S. state and federal courts. The case information is available at the company level, linked to Praedicat’s science-based analytics, and is updated monthly as new cases are filed.
AIR Worldwide said the its terrorism model for the United States can now model the extent of damage from conventional bomb blast attacks more comprehensively. Starting with the size and location of the bomb, the model propagates the appropriate blast intensity within a built environment from the exterior to the interior of buildings to yield damage and loss estimates, including property damage and workers compensation, and personal injury.
“When terrorists use conventional weapons—the effects of which tend to be highly localized—they are likely to be targeting specific buildings or facilities,” said Tao Lai, vice president, research, AIR Worldwide. “The amount of damage that occurs at or near the site of an attack depends on a wide variety of factors. In addition to the type of weapon used, the surrounding buildings, building dimensions and blast intensity propagation can have a profound effect on the damage from an attack.”
Insurers and reinsurers can used the AIR Model for Terrorism to estimate the potential property, business interruption, workers compensation, and personal injury losses that can arise from acts of terrorism in the U.S.
The updated model “can produce a more realistic damage extent for various forms of blast attacks, including the Oklahoma City bombing which was estimated to have had the energy of approximately 4,000 lbs. of TNT and damaged 324 structures within a five-block radius,” Lai said.
The updated model also reflects learnings from the detonation of a recreational vehicle bomb in downtown Nashville, TN on Dec. 25, 2020.