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Renovation trend drives above-forecast asbestos claims

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Mesothelioma claims have exceeded expectations as home renovations cause an extended third wave of asbestos exposure, James Hardie says.

A report on the building product supplier’s liabilities shows 392 mesothelioma claims were reported in the year to March 31, up 5% on the previous year and defying expectations for a slight decline.

Cases have held at high levels after jumping from 2011-14.

Actuarial group KPMG has now raised its claim projections. Previous assumptions assumed a peak in the period from 2014/15 to 2016/17.

James Hardie, which provided details with its earnings, says full-year profit fell 47% to $US146.1 million ($193.1 million) due to a $US195.8 million ($258.7 million) unfavourable actuarial adjustment for the asbestos issues.

The company’s liability to the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund, established in 2006, is estimated at $US1.85 billion ($2.44 billion).

Mesothelioma claims due to renovations have outstripped other causes since surging ahead in 2014.

KPMG says levels have moderated but remain higher than previously observed.

Last year 210 claims involved renovation activity, while 182 were due to other sources.

Workers exposed to asbestos during mining and product manufacturing were previously the main groups affected by the fatal disease.

Non-mesothelioma asbestos-related claims, excluding workers’ compensation, last year fell 6% to 150.