Environmental insurance claims are the most complex insurance coverage claims, often with substantial sums at stake. There are many hurdles that the policyholder must clear in order to obtain coverage for environmental claims. Insurance companies often seek to end an environmental coverage action by making a motion for summary judgment, arguing that an insurance issue bars coverage as a matter of law, and thus that the action should be dismissed.
If the policyholder defeats the motion and the case cannot be settled, it will proceed to trial. The most important issue at the trial of an environmental insurance coverage action is whether the damage arose out of an “accident” or “occurrence,” as required under liability insurance policies. The result likely will determine if there is coverage for the claim. If the policyholder acts intelligently, it should rarely lose this issue. Understanding the ramifications of this issue and how best to address it at trial are critical to success.
Read more: Winning Environmental Insurance Claim Trials: Was It an 'Accident' or 'Occurrence?'