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News Coronavirus watch14 Jan 2022

Australia:COVID-related liability issues remain for insurers

| 14 Jan 2022

Many pandemic-related issues are yet to play out for insurers, including construction liability waivers, mandatory vaccinations, mental health exposures and property access issues, according to the "GL Trends Update: Towards 2022" report published by the law firm Wotton + Kearney that specialises in providing legal services to the insurance industry.

The report, published last month, also says that concern is growing around several significant liability risks being seen globally, including supply chain risks and the rising impact social inflation is having on claims generally.

The report highlights several areas for claims managers, underwriters and brokers to keep an eye on in the general liability space across Australia and New Zealand in 2022 and beyond. The areas include:


The construction sector continues to experience on-going significant liability exposures, including emerging risks relating to flooding, defect claims associated with reclaimed land, a critical shortage of building materials, as well as a high volume of construction-related personal injury claims.

Climate change

Climate change risks remain a hot topic given the high levels of political, public and media attention on this global issue. Australia is one of the most active jurisdictions for climate litigation in the world and liability insurers will need to monitor duty of care decisions that may have broader application.


The number of environmental prosecutions is also increasing, particularly in the mining and waste industries, an analysis of recent case law shows.

"This is an area in which we expect to see significant regulatory developments as managing pollution will remain a focus for governments at all levels, " said Mr Charles Simon, Wotton + Kearney partner and general liability practice leader, in an introduction to the report.

Product liability

Manufacturers, suppliers and retailers are facing heightened product liability risks due to recent regulatory activity and developments in legislation and case law. In this space, there has also been a concerning number of businesses taking advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak, which Wotton + Kearney expects will lead to increased product liability claims.



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