The 205-year-old Providence Washington Insurance Companies, the oldest insurance company in New England and third oldest in the United States, has announced that it will cease operations after "running off" its current obligations (paying claims on them as they mature). Though the company withstood the Civil War, 1929 stock market crash and any number of hurricanes, fires and earthquakes, it could not quite withstand the unpredictable nature of the present-day litigation system: "A.M. Best attributed the insurer's decline partly to losses from asbestos claims on businesses insured in the 1960s through 1980s." ("After 205 Years, R.I.-Based Providence Washington to Close Its Doors", Insurance Journal, Jun. 1)(via Martin Grace, who suggests that reckonings of the industrial damage done by the asbestos litigation -- as with the oft-seen lists of manufacturer bankruptcies -- ought to include the damage done to the insurance sector of the economy as well).
Asbestos: goodbye to another insurer
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