February 16, 2005

Exposure Uncertain For Clergy Sex Abuse Cases

National Underwriter

By Michael Ha

NU Online News Service, Feb. 16, 3:10 p.m. EST—The issue of whether cases of sexual abuse by clergy are covered by general liability insurance is a highly disputed one, a U.S. insurance practice attorney said in an address to a British legal group.

According to Michael Leahy, with the Los Angeles-based law firm Haight, Brown & Bonesteel, most of the major U.S. insurers have some exposures depending on jurisdictions. Most general liability coverages are written on an individual diocese or archdiocese basis, he said.

Mr. Leahy, who spoke to the British Insurance Law Association in London last week, toldAbuse Tracker Underwriter yesterday that at the present time, in addition to church-run mutual carriers, some of the major U.S. insurers with potential liabilities from clerical abuse claims are American International Group Inc., ACE Limited and Employers Re.

For insurers involved in this marketplace, he said, there is a potential for significant exposures. Currently, Mr. Leahy noted, there are some 900 clergy sexual abuse cases against the U.S. Roman Catholic church in the state of California alone.

Posted by kshaw at February 16, 2005 05:08 PM