LEGAL CLIMATE IN US WORRIES AIR INSURERS

LEGAL CLIMATE IN US WORRIES AIR INSURERS

Aviation insurers, who had their second worst year ever in 1987 with pay-outs on major hull claims totaling $379 million, are particularly worried about their claims experience in the United States.

The worsening U.S. legal climate is likely to involve underwriters in substantial settlements, and will take out of the market sums well in excess of the liability premiums earned during 1987 on all United States major carriers, said Stuart Peel, chairman of the London-based Aviation Insurance Offices' Association.Twenty Western-built jet airlines were lost last year, compared with 15 in 1986. Ten of these involved a loss of 593 lives, compared with 382 deaths in eight airline losses in 1986.

Three of the aircraft losses in 1987 involving passenger fatalities were operated by U.S carriers, resulting in 213 deaths and 53 survivors.

In addition to being concerned about the rise in the number of aircraft lost, insurers are worried about the rising value of claims both for hull and passengers, particularly in the United States.

The largest loss in 1987 was of a South African Airways Boeing 747 valued at $86 million. This was more than half the value of total losses in 1986 of $169 million.