Often times when companies are faced with an environmental cleanup, they cannot locate occurrence-based liability insurance policies issued decades earlier that may provide coverage for their claim costs. The claims may be the result of the company’s direct operations or an acquisition of a company that caused the progressive injury or pollution to soil, groundwater or natural resources several decades earlier.  

Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies issued prior to 1986 are extremely valuable when a company is faced with such property damage claims since the policies did not contain absolute pollution exclusions. However, the policies may not be readily available to the company to enable it to file a claim with its insurers to recover cleanup costs. Many times the policies are missing or have been destroyed after so many decades have passed. Does that mean that the policyholder has lost the opportunity to pursue an insurance coverage claim? Not necessarily. Not having copies of insurance policies may not be automatically fatal to a policyholder’s claim for coverage. There are ways to prove the existence of coverage, even decades later. 

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