Reporting Professional and Environmental Insurance Claims: What You Need to Know

It’s bad enough when a pollution-related or professional-related loss occurs for which your insured may or may not be responsible. A lot of stress is involved, including pressure from the impacted third party or governmental entity to resolve the situation quickly. Thanks to your insights and recommendations, your client has the right Environmental or Professional insurance in place to assist the insured. 

For example, if the insured is a contractor, Contractor’s Pollution Legal Liability Plus (CPL) or Contractor’s Pollution & Professional Legal Liability Plus (CPPL) is an integral component of your client’s risk management program. If your insured is an owner of a site or facility, Pollution Legal Liability Plus (PLLP) or Owner’s Professional Protective Indemnity Plus (OPPI) is essential to your client’s risk management program.  

Now, let’s facilitate the claims process in the insured’s best interest.

Whether you’re reporting a claim on behalf of your insured or the insured is reporting a claim directly to us, there are several best practices to follow regarding an environmental-related loss for optimum results. Laura Berney, Claims Counsel, Environmental and Construction Professional Division, at Distinguished Programs, provides the following critical recommendations.

The earlier you notify us of a claim, the better.

There are times when the insured may be unsure if an environmental event or professional-related incident will become a claim and may decide to wait to notify us. Notify us anyway, regardless of whether the event ends up being a claim or not. We will establish a file in our claim system, and if it turns out that no claim develops, we’ll close our file. However, early notification avoids late notice issues if the claim comes to fruition and helps to protect the insured from jeopardizing coverage by taking certain actions without notifying us or getting our prior approval.

Oftentimes, insureds will try to fix an issue themselves. A simple email or a call to us allows us to partner with the insured to avoid a late notice/voluntary payment situation.[1]  WHEN IN DOUBT, JUST REACH OUT! 

In addition, the earlier we get involved in the claims process, the sooner we can put our expertise to work to help mitigate further losses. We have a portfolio of experts and a slate of attorneys who can assist and provide critical guidance if needed.

Early claims reporting enables insureds to protect themselves better and allows us to leverage our environmental expertise from the outset.

The more information you can provide, the better.

It may sound odd but often claims notifications do not include basic details such as loss location.  Providing us with the date of loss, loss location, policy number, and a copy of the declaration page (if possible) is important. In addition, any facts related to the claim that an insured can provide are critical in expediting the claims process.

If more than one insurance carrier may provide coverage for an insured’s various exposures, and there is any doubt which policy would step in, notify all carriers.

Let’s say a fire takes place on a property where a contractor was working, and some type of pollution event occurs. One carrier may provide Property (fire) insurance, and another carrier may provide Pollution coverage. You may also have third-party General Liability coverage. All three policies may respond in one way or another. If there is any doubt, notify all carriers. Sometimes, more than one policy may respond.

Respond to our claims acknowledgment email ASAP.

Once we receive the claims notification and set it up in our system, we will send the insured an acknowledgment email reiterating the facts of the claims and asking for additional information. The insured should respond to the acknowledgment email right away, providing us with the additional requested information that will help us to investigate and evaluate the claim. The timelier the response, the faster we can evaluate the claim and move forward.

We are here to answer all questions and assist our insureds, so they should feel free to contact us at any time.

Cooperate with our consultants and attorneys in helping to investigate claims.

Distinguished works with consultants and attorneys who specialize in the environmental and professional space and help us in investigating claims. It’s important for insureds to cooperate with our consultants and attorneys so that we can move the claim along and communicate our findings as soon as possible.

Why Distinguished?

Our Environmental programs at Distinguished are supported by a staff of in-house underwriters, claims managers, and a 24/7 response team. Our teams together have more than 300 years of environmental, construction, and insurance-related experience to provide solutions tailored to protect businesses from their unique environmental and professional exposures.

We also partner with Cura to provide 24/7/365 emergency response services to our insureds. Cura is a one-call, full-service vendor that provides emergency spill response management in all 50 states. Experienced incident managers will activate an approved contractor with pre-negotiated rates to the spill site, coordinate the cleanup, handle any regulatory notifications, dispose of waste, audit all invoices, and complete interim and final reporting for our insureds.

[1]These provisions may not be applicable to defined Emergency Remediation Costs if offered under your policy.

About Distinguished Programs

Distinguished Programs is a leading national insurance Program Manager providing specialized insurance programs to brokers and agents with specific expertise in Fine Art and Collectibles, Environmental and Construction Professional, Executive Lines, Inland Marine, Real Estate & Builder’s Risk, Community Associations, Hotels, and Restaurants. Property and Liability products are distributed through a national network of agents and brokers. Serving the same core markets and partnering with the most stable and reputable carriers, Distinguished’s high-limit Umbrella programs remain the clear choice in its area of specialty for superior coverage, competitive pricing, and attentive service. Through thoughtful innovation, stemming back to 1995, Distinguished Programs fosters growth and opportunities for its brokers, carriers, and employees.

View a full list of our programs and submit business with Distinguished.

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