Five Case Studies in Liability Disasters

Five Case Studies in Liability Disasters

It’s simply human character to think that no harm will ever come, or hit close to home. Unfortunately, things go wrong now and then. Because the unexpected is possible at any given moment, it’s vital to have insurance, business insurance, liability insurance, and specialized liability insurance for the best prevention possible. As the old saying goes, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

It pays to have character, auto, and life insurance for personal protection. On the business side, it’s just as important to have things like casualty, character, specialized liability, and general liability insurance in order to protect the personal and financial assets of the company. Having these insurance plans in place can be the difference between success and bankruptcy.

Regrettably, it’s often difficult to realize the importance of having a prevention plan in place until disaster strikes. Many know that having coverage is important, and however, nevertheless do not make the proper moves to protect themselves from unforeseen catastrophe. The following is a list of five case studies where the without of sufficient insurance, liability insurance, or specialized liability insurance resulted in crippling a company. These case studies will present you with the necessary information on how your company is at stake without proper insurance coverage.


Federal-Mogul is a large automotive parts manufacturer headquartered in Southfield Michigan. In 2001, the company had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because of the amount of liability it was facing from asbestos claims made by workers who came into contact with the substance when handling various different automotive parts. Much of these claims were made to cover liability associated with asbestos-related sickness, including cancer.

The problems suffered by Federal-Mogul were multifaceted with respect to liability insurance. In reality, the company acquired companies that were already facing liability as a consequence of asbestos-related claims.

The dilemma with Federal-Mogul wasn’t that these companies didn’t have liability insurance; it was whether or not they had the right kind of liability insurance, and whether or not they could protect themselves from things like specialized liability. Federal-Mogul thought they were covered, but soon found that they were not.

Federal-Mogul was under the concept that they could use a multi-faceted strategy to beat asbestos-related liability claims. The plan was to fight in the courts and lobby Congress for changes in legislation affecting liability claims. That approach caused them to lose in court.

In 2001, Federal-Mogul was forced to claim Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Fortunately, the bankruptcy truly helped the company rebuild itself financially, and is currently running strong today. Alas, they could have avoided losses to their company, and their reputation, if they didn’t take a risk on their liability insurance and specialized liability strategies. Indeed, leaving things at risk is what costs companies with respect to insurance time and time again.

Union Carbide

The Bhopal disaster is perhaps one of the most famous examples of corporate catastrophe. It serves as a first-rate case study surrounding issues of liability insurance and specialized liability.

Back in 1984, a pesticide plant owned by a Union Carbide subsidiary released 40 tons of MIC gas into the air, killing between 2500 and 5000 people. Some speculate that the death toll may have been already higher than reported.

Understandably, Union Carbide was facing countless losses due to liability claims coming from the injured and families of the deceased. Regrettably, they did not have the proper liability insurance to cover these losses. Millions in court were spent by Union Carbide fighting some of these initial legal battles.

While the Bhopal incident provides a great case study in liability insurance and specialized liability, business text books across the world cite it as an example of how not to deal with issues of risk management. The proper assessment of risk would have evaded such a monumental catastrophe.

Luckily for Union Carbide, they were able to settle all claims with the Indian government for a cost of $470 million. Although Union Carbide could have avoided paying the $470 million by engaging in a proper strategy involving liability insurance and risk management, they in reality saved money by passing by the litigation course of action.

The Exxon Valdez

The Exxon Valdez is however another famed case of corporate calamity dealing with the issues of liability insurance and specialized liability. It supplies a substantial example of why liability insurance is so meaningful for executives and business professionals at all levels.

The Exxon Valdez was an oil cargo ship that hit a reef in the Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska. The huge oil spill ended up costing Exxon in excess of $2.5 billion in punitive damages to the people affected by the spill in the area. Some of the legal issues involved are nevertheless being fought today, already after the initial payout of $5 billion was brought down to $2.5 billion.

The Exxon Valdez disaster further illustrated the importance of both liability insurance and risk management at the executive level. Executives at Exxon Valdez confront specialized liability costs as a consequence of poorly executed decision making for the liability of the company.

The Savings and Loan Crisis

The late eighties and early nineties saw one of the worst financial crises in American history, with a total cost of around $160 billion. Accounting firms are nevertheless litigating concerns contiguous to the liability insurance and specialized liability of the case, and it’s however another example of the gravity of having the proper insurance in place.

leave your comment