The Dangers of Pollution Liability: Environmental Insurance with GAIG
“Although you didn’t create the problem, you may be held financially responsible for the outcome.”
Great American Insurance Group’s Environmental Division understands the intricacies of environmental exposures and can help protect against hazardous pollution risks posed in brownfield redevelopment operations.
Launched in 2008, Great American Environmental is one of the few insurance carriers serving the industry for over a decade. Their core products and service capabilities enable businesses to effectively manage financially threatening risks. GAIG policies offer environmental liability coverage for a fixed location, including brownfields and redevelopment sites, as well as the contracting professionals who perform environmental remediation and build structures. The CCLR staff recently spoke with Barry Geisler, Senior Vice President of the Environmental Division at GAIG, about how brownfield projects can benefit from environmental insurance. In his role, Barry acts as the primary Chief Underwriting Officer and Senior Division Counsel, as well as overseeing “back office” support for the environmental business unit. Accumulating over 20 years of working in the insurance field, Barry has earned over a decade of his experience at Great American and is based out of the Exton, PA main office.
Due to the concerns around historical site contamination, redevelopment professionals may consider environmental insurance to help mitigate operational exposure while moving forward on a project. “Professionals typically purchase environmental insurance because they are aware of an existing issue or a potential exposure. Not necessarily an issue that may occur, but rather an incident that has already taken place,” Barry says. Looking into environmental insurance is an important part of any redevelopment project. In most cases, site owners are held liable for any contamination. “Although you didn’t create the problem, you may be held financially responsible for the outcome. Unfortunately it is common that many professionals buy policies after they have a bad experience.”
Great American Environmental is a national company that works on a wide variety of redevelopment sites. “One great thing about environmental insurance is that it is not at all cookie-cutter. We believe that every site’s risk is different and should be underwritten on its own unique characteristics and exposures. Our team has the ability to tailor client’s policies to find acceptable coverage specific to the risks and contaminants at the location,” Barry says.
Great American Environmental continuously monitors and responds to the changing regulatory and technical landscape surrounding emerging contaminants such as Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS). Though they must reconcile the long-term nature of their policies with changes in regulations over time, they now investigate potential PFAS exposure in every site risk assessment. “Fortunately we have a great internal technical staff who provide comprehensive risk services to our team. In addition to helping support our underwriters, they keep abreast of the changing regulatory community.”
GAIG recently chose to join CCLR as a National Sponsor and Visionary Member due to a common focus on providing service to organizations and the belief that redevelopment has a positive impact on the environment. “We’re always looking for opportunities to partner with organizations that align with our values. We have a large number of engineers, former consultants and professionals who have a history and passion for environmental science. We appreciate CCLR’s continued learning initiatives that provide training and technical support to their constituents and members. At Great American we strive to offer these similar types of services to our clients as well. It really seemed like an organization that not only aligns with what we do from a business perspective, but also from the social and environmental responsibility standpoint which we try to promote.”
“Regardless if you purchase a policy from us, we are always happy to provide environmental risk management guidance to anyone,” says Barry. “Service is our number one priority. When you purchase an insurance policy with Great American, you are connected with a technical representative, a claims professional, and a qualified underwriter who collectively provide you with responsive support throughout your policy term.”
Interested in learning more about the GAIG’s product offerings and service capabilities? If so, contact [email protected] to get in touch with Barry or any of the team’s environmental underwriting professionals.
To find out more about CCLR’s Membership program, please email Jean Hamerman at [email protected].