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Insurance Law

Pollution Liability: Insurance Policy And Public Policy







Tapas: Small Dishes of Insurance Coverage News & Notes

A New York federal court, addressing an issue of first impression, held in SI Venture Holdings, LLC v. Catlin Specialty Ins., No. 14-2261 (S.D.N.Y. July 10, 2015), [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: | Lexis Advance], that a Pollution Clean Up policy, that requires an insured to seek approval from its insurer, before expending funds for environmental clean-up, is not void as against public policy.

The court explained: “To be sure, if the agreement here did not contain a clause prohibiting Catlin from unreasonably withholding its consent—if Catlin had carte blanche, under the terms of the agreement, to refuse all reasonable requests—a different outcome might well be warranted. In the abstract, SI’s concerns about insurers ‘imped[ing]’ environmental clean-up are certainly valid. In practice, however, there is little reason to think SI’s concerns will materialize. As it stands, Catlin is prohibited—by the very same provision that SI seeks to have invalided—from unreasonably refusing to reimburse an insured party for clean-up costs. As written, the Consent Provision strikes a sensible balance between competing interests. If and when the New York courts consider the question, they may conclude that policy considerations require disrupting this balance. In the absence of further guidance, however, I decline to draw that conclusion here.”

Coverage Opinions is a bi-weekly (or more frequently) electronic newsletter reporting or providing commentary on just-issued decisions from courts nationally addressing insurance coverage disputes. Coverage Opinions focuses on decisions that concern numerous issues under commercial general liability and professional liability insurance policies. For more information visit

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of his firm or its clients. The information contained herein shall not be considered legal advice. You are advised to consult with an attorney concerning how any of the issues addressed herein may apply to your own situation. Coverage Opinions is gluten free but may contain peanut products.

    Randy Maniloff is Counsel at White and Williams, LLP in Philadelphia. He previously served as a firm Partner for seven years and transitioned to a Counsel position to pursue certain writing projects including Coverage Opinions . Nonetheless he still maintains a full-time practice at the firm. Randy concentrates his practice in the representation of insurers in coverage disputes over primary and excess obligations under a host of policies, including commercial general liability and various professional liability policies, such as public official’s, law enforcement, educator’s, media, computer technology, architects and engineers, lawyers, real estate agents, community associations, environmental contractors, Indian tribes and several others. Randy has significant experience in coverage for environmental damage and toxic torts, liquor liability and construction defect, including additional insured and contractual indemnity issues. Randy is co-author of “General Liability Insurance Coverage - Key Issues In Every State” (Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2012). For the past twelve years Randy has published a year-end article that addresses the ten most significant insurance coverage decisions of the year completed.

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