Category Archives: Insurance

Environmental Liability of Dissolved Corporations in Delaware is Forever

Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United, an effort has been made to humanize corporations, culminating in Mitt Romney’s infamous pronouncement that “Corporations are people my friend.”  Now it turns out that corporations may not be entirely like people.  In a recent decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery in In the Matter of Krafft-Murphy […]

Is the Absolute Pollution Exclusion Absolute? It Depends on Which State Answers the Question

The battle over the scope of the absolute pollution exclusion in general liability policies continues to be fought in the context of defective drywall manufactured in China.  An earlier blog entry discussed a Virginia court that had concluded that there was no coverage for defective drywall claims, rejecting decisions from a number of states that had ruled that the absolute pollution […]

CERCLA’s Act of War Defense — Potential Collateral Damage

For the first time in CERCLA’s history, a court has concluded that a Superfund claim was barred by the ”act of war” defense.  In that case, In Re September 11 Litigation, the judge ruled that a property owner a block from Ground Zero could not recover the costs of cleaning up dust on his building from the collapse of the […]

Reverse Coverage Suits: What Happens When Policyholders Agree to Defend and Indemnify Their Insurers

Increasingly, when settling coverage disputes,  insurers require policyholders to agree to defend and indemnify the insurer against any additional claims asserted against the insurer.  This produces the curious result that the policyholder and insurer functionally switch places.  For example, Hartford Fire Insurance Company recently sued its policyholder, Lanxess Sybron Chemicals Company.   Lanxess had settled a coverage […]

The Proper Reach of Pollution Exclusion Provisions In Insurance Coverage Claims

Most people would likely consider pollution to be a concept that is tied to harm to the environment — contamination of soil, groundwater, or ambient air.  Consistent with this common understanding of pollution, courts have repeatedly rejected the attempt by insurers to expand the scope of pollution exclusion provisions to bar coverage simply because an injury or loss involved the […]

Determining an Occurrence in Environmental Insurance Cases

Like a comet which drags a long trail in its wake, large CERCLA cases in federal court often are accompanied by related insurance coverage cases in state court. That is true with the Lower Fox River Superfund Site in Wisconsin. While a firestorm of litigation has raged for many years in federal court relating to […]

Rhode Island’s Easily Triggered Duty of An Insurer to Defend Environmental Cases

The First Circuit recently confirmed the traditional rule that it doesn’t take much to trigger an insurer’s duty to defend a policyholder against an environmental claim. In Travelers Casualty and Surety Company v. Providence Washington Insurance Company, the First Circuit overturned the trial court’s conclusion that there could be no coverage for contamination under liability […]

The Geneva Association Warns Governments To “Wake Up”: Have They Too Drunk The Koolaid?

Last week, the Geneva Association, which describes itself as “the leading international insurance think tank for strategically important insurance and risk management issues,” issued a report entitled “Extreme events and insurance: 2011 annus horribilis.” Quick take-away? Insurance losses are growing. Why? While there were large earthquakes in 2011, the bigger long-term concerns are extreme weather events and an increasing number […]

Want to Know Why Congress Can’t Pass Climate Legislation? Here’s Your Answer

And you thought that the explanation was just partisan gridlock in Washington? According to a study that has been accepted for publication in Environmental Research Letters, it will be somewhere between 120 years and 550 years before losses caused by Atlantic tropical storms can be statistically attributed to anthropogenic climate change. It’s important to note that this […]

Insurance Regulators Vote to Weaken Climate Disclosure Rules

Just over a year ago, we noted the surprising, unanimous decision by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to adopt rules requiring insurers to publicly disclose the impacts of climate change on their business decisions, to begin May 1, 2010.  Well, not so fast.   As Climate Wire reported, at Sunday’s NAIC meeting, a the commissioners […]

SEC Reverses Bush Policy on Climate Risk in Shareholder Resolutions

The US Securities and Exchange Commission released a staff bulletin yesterday that reverses a Bush administration policy that excluded shareholder resolutions which asked companies to disclose their climate-related financial exposure. While not the rule-making we discussed last week, this could be a significant change for the boards of large companies who may now be forced […]

Insurance Regulators Unanimously Approve Climate Risk Survey

An update to a development we noted a few weeks ago –  as reported by Climate Wire today, at the national meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) yesterday, regulatory officials from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the […]

Finally, Some Good News for Coal

Sometimes it seems as though the days for coal are short. With a new administration that seems truly committed to addressing climate change, it can be difficult to envision a long-run future.  Other days, coal, like Citigroup, seems too big to fail. Today, I’m in the latter camp. Yesterday, Zurich Financial Group announced that it would provide insurance […]