Dedicated to Creating Coverage
Clients applaud Cristin Bullen for improving their environmental coverages and designing protection for singularly difficult risks.
“Cristin was an invaluable resource in underwriting a custom and comprehensive PLL policy,” which covered a recent acquisition that involved spinning off a contaminated site to a third party, one client noted.
The client needed an affordable pollution legal liability policy that would cover all site risks. Bullen “made a market for our policy where there really wasn’t one,” the client said.
In its purchase of a large paper company, another client spun off the acquisition’s paper mills to a third party that was not purchasing environmental impairment liability coverage excess of a fund the original seller established. The third party also structured its acquisition to limit its environmental exposure.
Therefore, Bullen’s client needed an excess EIL policy providing tens of millions of dollars of coverage. Bullen developed an extensive underwriting submission delineating the three parties’ assumed liabilities.
At sludge processor Synagro Technologies Inc., market conditions had long meant inadequate coverage. But Bullen immediately improved the company’s contractor’s pollution liability coverage for a lower premium.
That helped bolster Synagro’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, noted Michael J. Miltenberger, director of compliance and risk management.
A Man of Many Words
“Steve Manz has the very unique ability to speak two languages,” a client observed.
“One language enables Steve to talk in ‘geotechnical’ terms with folks on our side and translate what he’s understood into ‘insurance lingo’ so underwriters gain sufficient knowledge of the risk.”
That ability allowed the client to resurrect an acquisition deal that had died because of site contamination. A consultant previously remediated a site contaminant, but the treatment triggered an inactive chemical in the soil.
A city well located off the property complicated the issue; the site owner attempted but failed to purchase environmental coverage, so the client pulled out of the deal.
In revisiting the deal, the client developed its own remediation plan and engaged Manz to find coverage to hedge its exposure.
The client said: “[We] bought the business, implemented our remediation plan, saved dozens of high-paying jobs in a rural community and protected residential water supplies in the process … all because we were able to acquire insurance, thanks to Steve!”
Another large client faced an unfavorable renewal of its manuscripted pollution liability coverage, despite a good loss history. The client tapped Manz to negotiate with the insurer.
Manz persuaded the carrier to accept 90 percent of the client’s requested terms and conditions — with a 17 percent premium reduction.
No Stone Unturned
Environmental insurance broker Ed Morales is a master at finding solutions — including some that clients thought were not possible.
EVRAZ North America retained Morales to make sure it had the most appropriate coverage by strong insurers at competitive prices.
Beforehand, EVRAZ, which has U.S. and Canadian facilities, believed it could afford environmental coverage only for its U.S. facilities, explained Edwin Koopmans, vice president and treasurer.
He found “the right insurers and made sure that they had a good understanding of our risk profile,” Koopmans said. Morales educated him about the need for coverage in Canada.
“We now have coverage for all of our locations at a premium that is approximately 20 percent less than the prior cost.”
Another client, which represents real estate investors with widely varying environmental risks, faced the loss of its blanket pollution legal liability insurer at renewal.
“With Ed’s hard work, I was able to pull the plug on the blanket a year in advance, broaden coverage, clarify certain critically important language and pay lower rates,” the client noted.
For EnergySolutions, which decommissions nuclear power plants, Morales replaced its PLL coverage in 2016 — with a 35 percent cost decrease — after the incumbent insurer pulled out of the market, noted Scott D. Michelsen, director, credit, collections & insurance.
Morales also secured advantageous terms and pricing for the 2017 renewal.
Clients count on Pete Pantalone to resolve problems.
Delaware agency Diamond State Port Corp. needed to rapidly expand the Port of Wilmington, a leader in banana imports.
DSPC officials found a suitable waterfront parcel, but there were many other motivated bidders and inadequate time for environmental reviews, noted Parul Shukla, director, finance & administration. Officials decided to bid and purchase insurance to limit the DSPC’s financial exposure.
The agency retained Pantalone, who placed a $25 million, 10-year policy.
“With the quick placing of the coverage, DSPC was successful in acquiring the site for development into a state-of-the-art container facility that will double the jobs and improve economic impact for the Delaware citizens.”
For another client, the reputation of the risk management department has been burnished because of Pantalone’s assistance in finding an insurance solution for a corporate divestiture with an environmental obligation, the client noted.
“The benefit to the insurance risk management program has been that I am now getting contacted to design an insurance solution for M&A deals, since this was a successful placement at a relative small cost.”
Another client, whose three-year pollution liability program covering global risks was expiring in a tough market, praised Pantalone for replacing the program with expanded coverage at a 20 percent premium reduction.
Taking Proactive Measures
Fixing problems before they turn disastrous is one value proposition Tony Sandfrey offers clients.
Sandfrey unilaterally analyzed a client’s existing coverage. He identified non-concurrent wording issues in the client’s tower, as well as some “shaving-of-limits endorsements,” the client noted.
Without addressing those problems with the client’s insurers, “there could be a case where an excess layer would not drop down after exhaustion of lower limits,” jeopardizing coverage in higher layers, the client explained.
Sandfrey “worked long and hard to educate” the insurers on why the wording was problematic.
Sandfrey also recognized a potential coverage gap if the client ever divested any U.S. operations where contamination was later discovered.
For Banner Health, which has inherited “many strange insurance policies” through acquisitions, Sandfrey streamlined coverage, said Heather M. Wielenga, commercial insurance risk finance director.
One example was an environmental policy for a medical center Banner acquired.
Policy terms precluded a premium reimbursement if Banner cancelled the coverage, but Sandfrey negotiated a deal that allowed Banner to cancel the policy and receive a $28,000 premium reimbursement in exchange for moving Banner’s entire environmental portfolio to the insurer — for expanded coverage at a lower cost, Wielenga said.
“We did not believe our problem could be fixed.”
Seals the Deal
A client’s planned acquisition was complicated. The target’s previous owner had indemnified only some of the target’s assets for contamination, noted attorney John H. Johnson Jr., a partner at Troutman Sanders, LLP, who also represented the client.
Johnson explained that broker Max West assembled an insurance product that would fully cover the environmental liabilities of the indemnified assets if the previous owner failed to honor its commitment. The policy also covered the non-indemnified assets, with limited exclusions.
“Absent Mr. West’s involvement, the transaction likely would not have been completed,” Johnson observed.
Another client company was looking for a buyer but encountered a major roadblock: federal regulators said it was potentially responsible for a Superfund site.
The client’s own analysis, however, indicated it was not responsible for any pollution.
“We could convince ourselves of anything we wanted to, however the biggest issue remained on dealing with the future unknown liability,” the client said. The client did not believe insurance would be affordable, but West secured two viable options.
As a result, the client said, the company “was sold with all parties satisfied. The seller does not have a long-term liability/escrow. The buyer has a 10-year policy to protect the company against any future claims related to the site. The deal would not have been done without this type of solution.”