Discrimination claims and lawsuits have jumped over the past two years. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that annual complaints rose from 70,000 to 80,000 in the previous decade to about 95,000 in 2008 and 2009, with 2010 on target to set a new record. Most of the rising number of lawsuits "are brought against large companies, and tend to be class actions," says Claire Wilkinson, vice president for global issues at the Insurance Information Institute (III).

"Losses can be significant, and reputational risk can be an important issue," she says.

"In a downturn like this, people who are let go look for some other way to get a financial benefit," says Evan Rosenberg, senior vice president and global specialty lines manager for Chubb.

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