Ultimate Mass Tort Claims Guide

What is a Mass Tort Claim?

A mass tort claim is a civil action wherein multiple claimants file individual claims against one or a few defendants related to years of damage. Common examples of mass tort claims include lawsuits for asbestos exposure, defective consumer products, harmful drugs, toxic contamination and abuse of minors. Claims can date back many decades. Each plaintiff in a mass tort claim gains individual treatment by the court, and if the case results in a settlement, plaintiffs receive varying amounts of compensation; unlike a class action which is one consolidated lawsuit with multiple participants and one settlement divided equally. U.S. federal courts often consolidate mass tort claims into multidistrict litigation – a special procedure designed to speed the process of handling such complex cases.

Mass Tort

Class Action


Mass Tort Claims Management: An Overview

Managing a mass tort claim requires adherence to a well-defined process: managers review the claim and applicable insurance; map the claim to coverages; deploy it to insurers; track all communications between the defendant(s) and insurers; and gain insurer participation. Volumes of claimant and financial data – and varied insurance reporting requirements – complicate the overall management of mass tort claims.

What Does Effective Claims Management Look Like?

Identify triggering event and determine policy type and impacted years.

Connect the claim to the appropriate coverage and options.

Contact insurance department or personnel specializing in legacy claims.

Monitor responses from carriers about the coverage available for impacted years of the claim.

Actively engage with carrier to obtain participation and ultimately reimbursement.

Effective Mass Tort Claims Management

Effective claims managers recognize the people-driven nature of a mass tort claim.  They manage an array of parties – defendants, lawyers, insurers and others – via a non-adversarial approach. By proactively collaborating with insurers while advocating for clients, the manager maximizes insurer participation and preserves relationships.  

The Convergence of Mass Tort Claims Management and Insurance Archaeology

Insurance archaeology has become an integral strategy to a defendants’ ability to minimize financial exposure from a mass tort claim. With many mass tort claims involving damages from decades ago, defendants often fail to account for applicable insurance coverages from that time. Insurance archaeology can uncover those historical assets which can be applied to the defense fees and indemnity of the claim(s).