General Insurance Article - A growing awareness of product liability insurance

New GILC report highlights international variations in response to product liability insurance as consumers demand greater protections

 Global Insurance Law Connect (GILC) has launched its first ‘Product Liability Report’, providing insights from 17 countries on product liability insurance in their domestic markets. The report provides details on the changes to the product liability market globally and forecasts future developments. Growing consumerism, the globalisation of supply chains, the emergence of new technologies, and the need to innovate are driving an increase in product liability claims globally.

 Gillian Davidson, GILC’s Chair and Partner at Sparke Helmore, commented: “These current and future trends in claims globally stem from a combination of consumer and regulatory pressures. While modernisation and innovation are increasingly important factors in today’s consumer society, at the same time, concerns around privacy and environmental preservation are also front of mind for many consumers. Alongside this, the growing body of legislation affording greater consumer protection rights has led to increased awareness of product liability insurance.

 “Some less mature insurance markets are still relatively underdeveloped, and here product liability coverage often occupies a small niche in the overall mix, being a relative newcomer. Nonetheless, the global tide of regulatory and legislative change is set to encourage consumers and corporates alike to increasingly hold manufacturers, importers and suppliers to account for the products and services that they provide.”

 The research highlighted one of the latest and most rapidly evolving issues impacting product liability is artificial intelligence. As Gillian explains, “One area that has thrown up challenges for regulators and legislators alike is the unprecedented growth of new technology platforms and tools such as artificial intelligence - and particularly the speed at which they are entering the daily lives of consumers and businesses. Although regulators are making a concerted effort to introduce frameworks that will both mitigate the risks to users of this new technology and protect them from harm, many are playing catch-up, and we are likely to continue to see an increase in the number of claims.

 “As awareness of product liability issues grows, the market for insurance coverage is expected to grow alongside it. In more developed insurance markets, the strengthening of consumer protections across a range of industry sectors (including the expanded definition of who or what constitutes a consumer in the eyes of regulators) is bringing more businesses into scope for potential product liability claims, driving appetite for coverage.

 “Whether countries have the most consumer-friendly laws in the world and a mature product liability market to match, or whether they have evolving legislation and a nascent insurance market for these risks, it is clear that this class of business will continue to grow at a fast pace in the coming years.

 “In this rapidly evolving market, insurers will need to be alert to new exposures and opportunities alike.”

 Product Liability Report

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