MGPs and Insurance Coverage: New and Old Historical Sources Working Together
This poster presentation examines MGP research strategies and the value of a range of new — and perhaps unexpected — MGP-related historical source material. These new sources, when combined with conventional document sets, provide litigators with an important toolset in determining if insurance claims for legacy environmental liabilities associated with former MGP sites should be honored or disputed in legal forums.
Utility company environmental and legal managers as well as insurance industry adjusters have long known that earlier insurance policies lacking pollution exclusion language could generally be invoked to cover legacy liabilities, if the MGPs were operated in a non-negligent manner consistent with standard waste disposal practices at the time. Contaminant releases caused by industrial accidents and clear “acts of god,” including floods and fires, might also be “trigger events” for coverage, if MGP superintendents did not cause or worsen such events. Yet MGP activities over time such as tar “disposal” are often complex, involving byproduct recovery and decommissioning and requiring careful research in order to establish what practices were followed and which events, if any, might legitimately trigger coverage.
As professional historians with a core specialty in MGP research, we have seen the array of sources and techniques which can shed light on these questions significantly evolve over the past two decades. The poster depicts this evolution and describes the value of these new resources to MGP professionals. Although older documents such as industry handbooks and annual MGP returns remain critical for these investigations, new, and significantly underutilized document sets provide further data points for MGP investigation. These include online searchable newspapers and 19th and 20th century trade literature; environmental reports on MGP decommissioning and early remediation; corporate memos and interviews with key company executives; and cultural resource reports and studies often documenting once-extant structures.
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