South Western’s Pollution Insurance: Compliant, Complete, and Fully Customized

Jan 2018

Environmental protection is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, which is why South Western Insurance Group Limited’s pollution coverage empowers brokers with virtually limitless choice when it comes to insuring their clients. “The level of customization our pollution product offers is not often matched by other markets,” says pollution underwriter and go-to expert, Ulli Garrett. “Sometimes, brokers will come to us with quotes for lower premiums, but what they do not realize in a lot of cases is that the insurance being offered is only for sudden and accidental coverage.” Most of South Western Insurance’s pollution policies are customized to cover both gradual pollution, as well as accidents. “So, if something has been seeping out into the environment over time,” explains Garrett, “it will be covered.” The pollution protection provided by South Western Insurance Group Limited varies widely, but can include:

  • the transport of cargo such as fuel from storage tank to customer,
  • first party on-site and third party off-site coverage for materials disposal,
  • leakage or seepage of pollutants from the insured’s property,
  • real estate exposure in terms of historical pollution, and
  • coverage for restoration contractors dealing with microbial matter, mould, asbestos, and PCBs.

“Whether it is third-party liability, clean-up costs, bodily injury, or property damage,” says Toronto branch manager Ghazal Hamid, “we strive to cover whatever needs covering. And if there is something specific that is not typically insured, we will go out and try to find a solution.” The environment is a highly complicated area in terms of coverage, Hamid points out, because it involves everything from water pollution to air emissions. “The thing with pollution claims,” he says, “is that they often stem from long-term, gradual situations. But regardless of the circumstance, one thing is certain: if you cause damage to the environment, it will typically be costly to repair.” One of the factors contributing directly to the complexity of pollution insurance is the need for specialized knowledge in terms of compliance. According to Garrett, that means having an extensive understanding of government regulations. “You need to know what will require remediation in a particular circumstance, and what will not,” she explains. Compliance knowledge can involve anything from awareness of the age at which storage tanks must be shut down, to the measures certain types of contractors must take in the event of an environmental incident. “We are well-versed in such issues,” says Garrett, “and they are addressed in our policies.” Because accountability in the pollution arena is ever-changing – and is not covered by regular property liability policies – it is extremely important, says Hamid, for brokers to recognize that one specific parameter will not necessarily fit every risk out there. “There is the statutory remediation, the historical pollution, the gradual pollution, the wear-and-tear, the biodiversity, the old site clean-up. Some markets will address one single aspect, then label it a pollution product. At SWG, we address the entire scope of environmental liability. And we stay one step ahead by remaining aware of precedents, and how claims are being settled out there in the marketplace.”