This is a case study about how insurance archeology ensured the insurance carriers would defend the developers against lingering asbestos claims.
Cruise ship docked in harbor

The RMS Queen Mary located in Long Beach, California.

The retired British battleship the RMS Queen Mary was converted into a refurbished hotel in 1971 by H.G. Smith Construction Co. and Amelco Corporation as a joint venture, Smith-Amelco. Their employees retrofitted the ship with asbestos insulation and remodeled the decks turning the warship into a lavish hotel.

Over forty years later, some of the Smith-Amelco workers alleged that working with insulation onboard the ship was the cause of their mesothelioma lung cancer cases. The joint venture between the two companies Smith-Amelco was short-lived. PolicyFind™ was asked to find proof of Smith-Amelco’s former insurance coverage.


The owners of the RMS Queen Mary hotel gave Smith-Amelco’s attorney and the attorneys for the other litigants one day to review records onboard the ship. PolicyFind was tasked with searching for documents identifying the commercial general liability (CGL) insurance coverage below the ship’s deck. There were nearly one hundred cardboard boxes stored in tight quarters at the very bottom of the ship. There were 20+ paralegals and attorneys searching through these boxes to uncover proof of insurance. After forty years below the ship’s deck, the boxes were so fragile that they collapsed when touched, leaving their contents in disarray.

PolicyFind’s Director of Investigations, David O’Neill continued searching through the piles of crushed cardboard and spilled documents long after the others had quit and left the lower deck. It seemed that he would be unable to fulfill his duty onboard the Queen Mary.


O’Neill stayed determined and continued sifting through scattered documents and found proof of insurance coverage. As O’Neill was continuing to sift through documents scattered on the floor, he found an additional piece of evidence. This made the case stronger and established the existence of a CGL policy, which was the proof of insurance O’Neill needed to move the case forward.


With these two pieces of evidence, Smith-Amelco’s attorney, was able to file the asbestosis claims with enough proof of historical CGL insurance coverage. The proof of insurance coverage was used to fund the attorney fees and ensured the insurance company defended Smith-Amelco against the lawsuit.


Call PolicyFind’s insurance archeology experts at 866.888.7911 or fill out our contact form.