Business

December 26, 2013

USEPA Fines Pesticide Producer

Read here about a pesticide producer that has agreed to fines of more than $1.7 million.

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December 26, 2013

Beazley Strengthens Environmental Liability Underwriting Capabilities

Source: http://www.virtual-strategy.com, December 19, 2013

Beazley’s environmental liability team is expanding with the recruitment of two senior underwriters, Dana Hughes and Gregory Dunn. Ms Hughes and Mr Dunn will both be based in Beazley’s Philadelphia office.

Ms Hughes joined Beazley in August 2005 and currently underwrites for the company’s Architects & Engineers (A &E) team. In her new role she will be expanding her focus to include professional liability and contractors’ pollution liability for environmental consultants and contractors. A former geologist and environmental consultant, she brings strong technical expertise to the team.

Mr Dunn was previously vice-president/regional manager at XL Insurance. He has a degree in geology, over five years of environmental consulting experience and more than a decade of underwriting experience in fixed site and contractors’ pollution liability across a broad range of risk categories.

“I am delighted that Dana and Greg have joined our team,” said Jayne Cunningham, environmental liability focus group leader. “With his technical underwriting background and ample business development experience, Greg will fit right in with our disciplined underwriting approach.”

“Dana has been a tremendous asset to Beazley’s A &E team. Her expertise and extensive experience in general and environmental underwriting will be extremely valuable to us as we continue to expand our portfolio.”

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December 20, 2013

WI Mining Company Fined

Read here about a mining company in Wisconsin that has been fined $200,000 in a 2011 pollution case.

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December 17, 2013

Missouri court holds underlying loss not progressive injury

Source: http://www.lexology.com, December 12, 2013
By: Brian Margolies, Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP

In its recent decision in Stoddard Equipment Co., Inc. v. American Safety Indemnity Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEIS 170701 (W.D. Mo. Dec. 4, 2013), the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri had occasion to consider whether property damage occurred during the policy period of a pollution liability policy.

American Safety’s insured, Stoddard, was named as a defendant in an underlying suit for its alleged negligent installation of a gas pipeline running from a storage tank to a marina where the gasoline was dispensed. Stoddard completed the work in early October 2009. The underlying plaintiff alleged that during the evening of September 2, 2011, the entire contents of its tank leaked into the surrounding soils and waters. Plaintiff alleged that Stoddard’s negligent installation of the pipe in 2009 is what caused the release in 2011.

Stoddard sought coverage under various policies for the underlying suit, including a contractors’ pollution liability policy issued by American Safety for the period November 3, 2008 to November 3, 2009. The policy’s insuring agreement provided coverage for property damage, but only to the extent the property damage occurred during the policy period. American Safety denied coverage to Stoddard on the basis that the property damage, i.e., the damage caused by the release of the storage tank’s contents, happened in its entirety nearly two years after the expiration of its policy. Stoddard nevertheless maintained that because the pipe was negligently installed during the time the American Safety policy was in effect, the property damage should be considered progressive in nature, spanning several policy periods.

On motion to dismiss, the court rejected Stoddard’s argument, distinguishing the gasoline release from matters involving property damage happening over a lengthy period of time, such as at issue in the Missouri Supreme Court case D.R. Sherry Const., Ltd. v. American Fam. Mut. Ins. Co., 316 S.W.3d 899 (Mo. 2010), which involved structural damage to a home over a period of years as a result of an unstable foundation. The underlying complaint contained no allegation that the pipe installed by Stoddard began leaking prior to November 3, 2009, but instead alleged that the entirety of the leak happened during a one night period in September 2011. The court further reasoned that no inference could be drawn from the complaint that any hole developed in the pipe prior to the expiration of the American Safety policy. In reaching its holding, the court cited to the line of Missouri law “that draws a distinction between the occurrence of negligent act during the policy period and the occurrence of physical damage that results from the commission of a negligent act during the policy period.” While the court agreed that Stoddard’s alleged negligence happened while the American Safety policy was in force, the resulting damage happened in its entirety after the expiration of the policy and thus fell outside of that policy’s scope of coverage.

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December 17, 2013

Marsh: Coverage rates continue to rise for U.S. construction firms

Source: http://ifawebnews.com, December 13, 2013

U.S. construction firms on average paid more for their insurance in the first half of 2013 as underwriters continue to seek price increases across the breadth of their contractor portfolios, according to a report published by Marsh.

Pricing for contractors general liability, project-specific general liability, umbrella and excess liability, workers’ compensation, and residential construction insurance was up between 3% and 7% on average during the first half of the year, according to Marsh’s Construction Market Update—First Half 2013. Construction firms with poor loss histories were more likely in general to have seen double-digit rate increases.

Pricing for non-residential construction, and contractors and architects and engineers professional liability insurance also was up on average during the first half of the year, but to a lesser degree.

“U.S. construction firms are grappling with a firming insurance market, especially when it comes to liability insurance where underwriters continue to tighten coverage terms and seek rate increases to make up for reduced investment income,” said Michael Anderson, leader of Marsh’s U.S. construction practice. “With a zero interest rate environment, there is no cushion against a poor underwriting decision.”

According to Marsh’s report, not all construction lines are experiencing rate increases. Premium rates for builders’ risk insurance generally remained flat during the first half of the year despite more demand for coverage. Similarly, contractors’ pollution liability rates remained generally flat to down 5%.

“While underwriters are attempting to gain rate increases, the market is awash in capital and new entrants are helping to maintain competition. The good news for well-managed construction firms is they can still generally find competitive pricing and terms,” Anderson said.

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December 4, 2013

Gas Drilling Slows in PA City

Read here about a Pennsylvania city where the pace of gas drilling is slowing.…

December 2, 2013

Well Site to be Included in Oil Spill Cleanup

Read here about cleanup of a former oil well pad.

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November 25, 2013

Construction records key to defending defect claims

Source: http://www.businessinsurance.com, November 20, 2013
By: Matt Dunning

Although most contractors acknowledge that maintaining thorough contractual and operation records can greatly reduce the severity of construction defect claims, insurance experts said Wednesday that lack of documentation among their clients remains a pervasive issue.

In 2012, in four out of five construction defect disputes involving Hartford, Conn.-based Travelers Cos. Inc.’s construction clients nationwide, vital documents and photos detailing change orders, inspections and approvals of onsite work were unavailable, said Robert Kreuzer, Travelers’ second vice president of construction risk control, during a presentation at the International Risk Management Institute Inc.’s 33rd annual Construction Risk Conference in San Diego.

“Whenever we have an allegation of construction defect on a project that was completed some time ago, we typically struggle to find the documents that we need to understand what exactly happened and why it happened,” Mr. Kreuzer said. “Eighty percent of the time, the documents are either not there, or they’re inaccurate, or we can’t find them. Sometimes it’s as simple as one piece of paper, but it comes down to one piece of paper filed somewhere in one of dozens of boxes, so it becomes quite a daunting task.”

On average, Travelers’ experts said construction defect claims — claims made against a general or specialty contractor alleging the failure of a building component or system based on defective design specifications or building materials, faulty installation or improper maintenance of a project post-completion — take an average of seven years from the initial allegation for contractors to notify their insurers of a defect claim, and many more to litigate in cases where documentation is either incomplete or missing.

“Lack of documentation is a common theme in the litigation process as well,” said Michael Koppang, Hartford-based director of construction claims at Travelers. “When you wait to collect evidence of a possible defect, and then someone on-site goes and tries to fix it, you lose the opportunity to document the as-built conditions.”

“If you can do those things ahead of time, you have a better chance of getting yourself out of the dispute, and avoiding that 11-year headache,” he added. In order to improve the quality and maintenance of their construction records, Mr. Kreuzer said many contractors have begun assembling in-house or third-party assessment teams to review and organize their contracts, project designs and material orders.

“We’ve also heard about lot of contractors doing things during construction operations, like conducting jobsite walkthroughs, change order and RFI reviews, and going back over their project diaries to look at any onsite issues or problems that came up on a given day and how those issues were resolved,” Mr. Kreuzer said.

November 22, 2013

Oil firm to pay penalty for discharging fracking fluid

Read here about an oil firm in California that has been fined $60,000 for discharging fracking fluid.

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November 22, 2013

AL receives money for oil spill restoration

Read here about millions of dollars that have been approved for oil spill restoration projects in Alabama.

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