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A specialized broker, experienced underwriters and a strong claims staff are among the factors policyholders should take into account in placing their environmental insurance, observers say.
Richard Sheldon, environmental practice leader at Willis North America Inc. in New York, said there is no standardized marketplace for environmental insurance, and the “forms vary dramatically from carrier to carrier.” That is “not something that a typical P&C agent, I think, would feel comfortable with placing, even for a relatively average risk,” he said.
Jayne Cunningham, Beazley P.L.C.'s New York-based focus group leader for environmental, said buyers should look for insurers knowledgeable about their particular areas of concern. “You really want to know you've got underwriters that have a lot of experience, and that isn't necessarily the carriers that have been doing it the longest,” she said.
Environmental liability insurance buyers must look at the value added by their insurers in deciding where to buy, said Bob Newmarker, Boston-based head of environmental sites for Zurich North America. This includes making sure the insurer has a claims staff “that has experience in handling environmental claims” and a strong risk engineering group “that can understand your business,” he said.
When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, risk managers' help in assessing and mitigating exposures is particularly important where environmental risks are concerned.