Sports-related brain injuries are among the biggest new area for insurance claims, S&P Global Ratings warned on Thursday, shortly after the World Wresting Entertainment (WWE) was sued by more than 50 former wrestlers.
A landmark class-action settlement last year between the U.S. National Football League (NFL) and thousands of former players has pathed a way for claims in both the U.S. and the U.K., S&P said.
Since then, dozens of retired wrestlers have sued the WWE for neurological injuries allegedly sustained while participating in the professional fighting company's tournaments.
S&P said injured amateur and professional rugby players might also look to sue, along with participants in other sports where helmets are worn to prevent head injuries. Among entities that could be targeted for claims are athletics groups, sports teams, schools, retailers and helmet makers.
The ratings agency said there were similarities between brain-injuries claims and the claims dating back decades made for exposure to asbestos. Insurance companies still pay out around £200 million ($263 million) a year in the U.K. to people who were exposed to asbestos — a material once commonly used in manufacturing and construction — and subsequently developed cancer.