LEARN HOW CASE LAW MAY BE FAVORABLE FOR POLICYHOLDERS FACING ENVIRONMENTAL LIABILITY IN NEW MEXICO
BY: DRU CARLISLE
Case law could be poised to become more favorable for Policyholders in New Mexico who are facing challenges related to Environmental Liability. In nearly every state in the country (with Indiana as an exception), courts have agreed that the Absolute Pollution Exclusion bars coverage for addressing environmental contamination. Typically, this would mean that most general liability policies written after 1985 would not provide a defense to the Policyholder related to environmental cleanup.
In Indiana, a ruling in 2010 determined that the Absolute Pollution Exclusion was considered “ambiguous,” making it possible for many Policyholders to use their insurance policies up until around the mid-2000s.
WHAT COULD THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
Hypothetically, let’s say that you’ve been operating a drycleaning business since 1988 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You’ve recently discovered, after attempting to sell your property and performing a Phase II, as required by the lender, that there is perchloroethylene contamination within the groundwater. Previously, the General Liability policies that you procured for your business would not provide coverage for remediation because of the Absolute Pollution Exclusion. However, if this ruling were to move forward as expected, you could now have applicable insurance coverage.
Even though this ruling could open a larger opportunity for policyholders to seek coverage from their past insurers on more recent policies, the policies that would be responding to these types of claims could have been issued more than 20 years ago, or earlier. If you don’t know anything about your old occurrence-based general liability policies, contacting an Insurance Archeologist is the best way to find them and bring them to bear.
For over 20 years, PolicyFind has helped business owners and property owners alike, as they navigate expensive environmental contamination cleanup efforts, by finding lost or misplaced General Liability insurance policies that can respond to such claims. PolicyFind will continue to watch this ruling unfold in New Mexico and will provide updates as they arise.
Contact PolicyFind today to learn more about how we can help you find evidence of your organization’s historical coverage.