On February 6, just over a month after California’s Child Victims Act reviver statute ended, California Assembly member Dawn Addis and Senator Nancy Skinner introduced AB 452, the “Justice for Survivors Act”. 

While California’s Child Victims Act provided childhood survivors of sexual abuse a 3-year period to file civil lawsuits against their abusers and associated institutions, this ‘lookback window’ closed on December 31, 2022. 

Currently, people who were sexually abused as minors in California can file civil lawsuits until they are 40 years old. If passed, AB 452, which awaits referral to its first policy committee, would eliminate those time constraints.  

Whether states enact lookback windows, or when new legislation is passed that removes or reduces the statute of limitations for sexual abuse civil suits, organizations that are linked to alleged abuses can get caught in the crossfire between plaintiffs and alleged offenders. Occurrence-based Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies issued to these organizations during the policy periods in which the alleged abuse occurred can respond to these new claims – even if the alleged abuse happened several decades ago.

Upon receiving notice that a lawsuit has been filed against them under a reviver statute, or under a new law, defendant organizations typically first contact their attorneys, who then suggest contact should be made with their current insurance agents and brokers to find insurance. 

However, because of standard document retention practices, these organizations quickly learn their current agent/broker has no information dating back decades. Often, policyholders will next contact insurance companies, expecting that their old coverage information is still stored within the insurance company’s ‘old files’. These requests are often fruitless, as the burden of proving the existence of historical liability coverage falls to the policyholder. Furthermore, the insurance company is not required to keep a policyholder’s information. It’s at this point that defendant organizations should consider Insurance Archeology.

Insurance Archeology is the practice of locating and retrieving proof of the existence, terms, conditions, and limits of lost or destroyed insurance policies. PolicyFind’s expertise is finding and bringing to light old insurance coverage for our clients. Under current and future reviver statutes and emerging new laws across the country, historical CGL policies issued to businesses, schools, churches, and other organizations, are the first line of assets to be explored to pay for claims against them.

Contact PolicyFind today to learn more about how to discover and reconstruct your organization’s historical liability insurance portfolio.