SWANSON: What are specific examples of products pollution claims intended to be covered by the combined form which are not presently being covered?
PICCININNI: In the past couple of months, Lumber Liquidators paid $36 million to settle claims because laminate flooring products sold between 2009 to 2015 have unsafe levels of formaldehyde. A class action was just filed in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, where more than 300 new houses were built with toxic chemicals being emitted from bad joists.
There are many recent claims where manufacturers used Perflouroalkyl substances (PFAS) as a coating on cookware (e.g., Teflon), furniture and clothing. In addition, fire departments used PFAS
in foam based fire retardants. Any such new emerging hazardous product would be included in the enhanced coverage from.
SWANSON: Are there non-product liability claims that are specifically part of the combined form?
TOLLIN: Yes, there are many examples. Non-employees have often brought claims alleging exposure to an irritant or contaminant at insureds onsite premises and offsite; hazardous materials such as arsenic and asbestos have been dumped on premises called “midnight dumping” claims; manufacturers have routinely received potentially responsible party notices from the EPA if the corporate name and address appeared on any waste manifest making the company jointly and severally liable for cleaning up the waste disposal facility.
Also, medical monitoring claims alleging fear of illness and emotional distress without any physical injury; personal injury claims from neighbors alleging odors or hazardous vapor intrusion from solvents, metals and fuel releases; migration of pollutants from a neighboring property onto the insured property, particularly during a hurricane or natural disaster; the intentional release of CDC bioterrorism agents such as anthrax, botulism, Ebola virus, plague, ricin; and the business interruption loss with results from any environmental incident.
SWANSON: Isn’t business interruption already covered by property and general liability policies?
PICCININNI: Not if there is an exclusion for the underlying loss such as a pollutant, which causes the business interruption loss.
SWANSON: Does the combined form have other benefits?
TOLLIN: Qualifying manufacturers and distributors can take advantage of state-of-the-art loss prevention and emergency response services offered by experienced environmental insurance brokers and their combined form carrier partners.
For example, services provided include industrial hygienists, environmental engineers, environmental consultants, environmental attorneys, public relations firms, emergency response contacts, environmental claims analysts, and dedicated environmental experts employed by the insurance broker who facilitates the claim.
SWANSON: Who are the carriers?
PICCININNI: SterlingRisk uses many competing A.M. Best “A” rated insurance carriers which have invested in robust services offered to policyholders. SterlingRisk has helped draft many of the combined forms in existence today. SterlingRisk further offers dedicated expertise with workers compensation audit preparations, Mod assistance and challenges to class codes savings clients millions every year, as well as having a specialist for trade credit coverage, which indemnifies the value of goods delivered to the customer but remains unpaid due to the customer’s default or bankruptcy.