December 15, 2016
Lead poisoning in drinking water has been a problem since ancient Rome, and it simply won't go away. As the recent history of Flint, Michigan demonstrates, lead in drinking water can result in multiple serious, and extraordinarily expensive, challenges for municipalities. Since the problem in Flint was discovered in 2014, unsafe levels of lead have been reported in drinking water in a number of cities and towns cross the country. In addition to health risks, municipalities may face enormous expense resulting from elevated levels of lead, including legal liability and the costs of emergency and remedial measures. Some or all of these costs may be covered by liability and first party property insurance, depending upon the specific factual scenario involved and the exclusions present in potentially applicable policies. Municipalities faced with lead contamination issues should identify and carefully analyze all potentially applicable insurance policies, promptly report all claims, losses and occurrences as required by the policies, and develop a plan for securing coverage.