Confidential Insurance Archeology
PolicyFind™ conducts Confidential Insurance Archeology® for property and business owners, municipalities, churches, and a variety of other policyholders. We work in the United States and Canada to locate and retrieve lost or misplaced insurance documents and to assemble them into complete insurance histories that can be used by clients, carriers, and lawyers.
PolicyFind™ also assists policyholders who have already spent their own funds to address liabilities. Whenever possible, we work to recover expenses relating to environmental remediation, product recalls and other expenditures made before the policyholder could access his historic coverage.
We search for your lost or mislaid insurance documents and present an array of available insurance assets over time. Our coverage charts provide a depiction of which policies were in place during each policy period. Furthermore, we work with your risk managers or attorneys to determine your insurance claims options. And we are available to contact the insurance carriers on your behalf — to notify them of claims and seek defense and indemnity.
Lost or misplaced CGL policies can be located however and their conditions, terms and limits proved by the practice of Insurance Archaeology. The Insurance Archaeologist searches for and assembles lost policy information in much in the way that an archaeologist searches for bone fragments and reconstructs prehistoric skeletons. Once evidence of a policy is assembled, even if the policy itself is not found, the terms and conditions of the policy can be established and a viable claim can be filed.
A well conducted Insurance Archaeology project can provide literally millions of dollars in defense costs and indemnity to beleaguered business owners faced with response costs for injuries and damages occurring under previous management but surfacing recently. The retrieval or reconstruction of a lost or misplaced CGL insurance policy can protect a company from serious financial loss and sometimes save a company from bankruptcy.
Specimen Policy Library
There are times when the initial Insurance Archeology turns up policy information, but the actual policy or the insurance certificate cannot be found. Where insurance archeology has turned up cancelled checks, ledger entries or certificates of insurance that provide policy numbers, something additional is needed to determine the terms, conditions and limits of coverage.
Where policies are identified but not found, PolicyFind’s library can be of great benefit. The same policy type issued to a similar insured by the same insurance company during the same policy period can provide valuable information needed to determine the coverage provided by the missing policy.
PolicyFind’s Library contains hundreds of general liability and excess liability insurance policies collected over the years. These policies are available to you or your attorney for generic use as evidence of which policy forms were in use by which carriers during a given policy period.
PolicyFind™ specializes in providing litigation support: Expert witnesses to provide insurance document analysis and testimony regarding the development of liability policy language and the history of liability insurance in the American market. Experienced expert witnesses bring their vast insurance knowledge to bear in support of motions for declaratory judgment where the court’s decision is sought concerning the defense or indemnity obligations of particular liability insurance policies.
PolicyFind™ paralegals are available to assist in document management in asbestos, silica, toxic tort, product liability and environmental property damage cases for defense or plaintiff’s counsel.
Additionally, Policy Find networks with Enviroforensics, a premier provider of scientists as expert witnesses in the field of environmental property damage. An experienced staff of geologists, engineers, hydrogeologists, and other environmental experts can be provided to address environmental contamination source identification, fate and transport, rate and extent, human health and ecological risk assessment at environmental contamination sites throughout the United States.
Corporate History Reconstruction
Corporations that grow by acquiring manufacturers or distributors need to include PolicyFind’s insurance archaeology services in their mergers and acquisitions pro forma. Investigating the historic insurance programs of companies targeted for acquisition needs to be an essential aspect of due diligence. This is because corporations acquiring ownership of present day companies risk acquiring potential liabilities with roots in the past practices of the companies they acquire.
Corporations that acquire others may purchase liabilities in the form of long-tail environmental and toxic tort claims that surface years after mergers have been consummated. These corporations need to take the acquired company’s insurance assets with them into such an uncertain future. Yet too often, the acquiring corporation settles for the targeted company’s present insurance portfolio and allows the seller’s historic insurance assets to be lost or destroyed.
PolicyFind™ performs a full historical insurance audit as part of corporate mergers and acquisitions due diligence process. Specialized insurance research personnel retrieve and copy accounting, corporate history and sales records at the target company’s facilities. Further, they review documents at off-site insurance archives to reassemble the target company’s historic insurance program.
Once these documents are retrieved, they are examined to determine what coverage potential they may provide to protect the acquiring corporation from the pollution or toxic tort claims of the future. An assessment of what insurance assets the acquiring company takes with it from the target company is an important component of the acquisition process and can make or break a deal where future liabilities are almost certain to emerge.
PolicyFind’s decades of experience in locating and retrieving insurance policies pays dividends long after the search has ended. Having a bank of insurance policies to fall back on to weather the legal storms that the future may bring makes good business sense. The alternative can be devastating. Potential liabilities from acquiring companies with hidden liabilities can be devastating. A corporation that innocently acquires a distributor of non-toxic plumbing fixtures today may find that the acquired company formerly distributed asbestos products. This discovery may come in the form of a law suit brought by a plumber who traces his lung disease to exposure to these asbestos products over decades during his career. Another example could involve a medical supply company that made or distributed dust masks to foundry workers or miners, where personal injury claims have been filed by individuals affected with silicosis. The question will then be whether the acquiring company can access the resources to pay the attorneys to defend against the claim. The product liability insurance of the acquired company often has the potential to provide defense and indemnity in this situation.
PolicyFind’s ability to search for, locate and assemble the insurance documents required to protect the acquiring corporation from this long-tail liability is usually worth millions in defense and indemnity and yet is perhaps the least expensive part of the entire acquisitions process.
Insurance Policy Audit
Historical insurance policies are assets and can be worth millions of dollars. If there is one thing a business owner can do is to locate a securely store their historical insurance policies. PolicyFind conducts audits to review and evaluate which policies businesses have in their possession and determine which policy years are missing.
Whether acting proactively, responding to a PRP notice from an environmental agency, or responding to a law suit, companies benefit from searching their internal records for insurance policy information. The audit is the first step in any Insurance Archaeology project. PolicyFind™ specializes in conducting audits on its clients’ behalf. Our experience in combing through dated materials and assembling insurance policy evidence is unsurpassed.
The document review process begins at the corporate headquarters but continues at branch locations where insurance documents relating to companies acquired during mergers or acquisitions are stored. Once all policies and proofs of insurance are assembled, gaps in the company’s historic insurance program present themselves and specific plans can be made to locate missing insurance policies and proofs at locations outside the organization.
Armed with the corporation’s historic insurance program, corporate risk managers and their attorneys can determine which carriers are to be noticed for which claims and what coverage limits are available to offset which potential expenditures.
When regulatory agencies, municipalities or private property owners discover soil and groundwater contamination, a demand to pay for the cleanup is made to those companies that have the deepest pockets and are the most obvious legally liable parties (responsible parties). The laws state that responsible parties have “joint and several liability”. This means that any responsible party can be held accountable for the entire environmental problem. Most of the time the most obvious party is only one in a history of past owners and operators, waste transporters or generators that may have contributed to the environmental impairment.
Companies thus unfairly singled out for environmental expenditures can take the defensive measure of requesting a search for a potentially responsible party from Policy Find. Policy Find will conduct document searches to determine other owners, operators, transporters and generators at the site. Further, PolicyFind™ PRP searchers will conduct interviews with knowledgeable persons to determine the current whereabouts of other companies or individuals and locate documentation linking them to the waste site.
A successful search can cut the original PRP’s financial burden by fifty to seventy-five percent.Once other parties are linked to the contamination at the site, they can be brought to the attention of governmental authorities and be made to share the financial burden of site characterization and clean up. Sometimes, the entire burden of environmental action can be shifted to a newly discovered polluter depending on the circumstances of the particular site history.
In those states whose insurance laws are strict, only pre-1986 standard liability policies can be depended upon to provide a defense in environmental property damage scenarios. If your company is a recent owner or operator at the site, your insurance may be too recent to be of any help in offsetting the costs you are expected to pay. In these situations, potentially responsible party searches can be most valuable. Other potentially responsible parties can be found to contribute what your insurance assets cannot. Also, even where other PRPs discovered are found to be bankrupt or insolvent, their insurance policies may provide defense and indemnity at sites these PRPs helped pollute.