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Climate risks pose threat to business

Climate risks pose threat to business

Climate change is a risk in the truest sense, participants said during a Business Insurance webcast last week.

“Nobody knows exactly what's going to happen,” William F. Stewart, partner in the national insurance coverage group of Nelson Levine de Luca & Horst L.L.C. in Blue Bell, Pa., said during the BI webcast “An Inconvenient Risk: Climate Change Liability and Coverage.”

Legal experts speculate that climate change-related insurance coverage disputes may be as messy as asbestos claims. Recent lawsuits and federal regulations have resulted in individuals, corporations and governmental entities trying to recover damages for alleged global warming contributions.

While some results of climate change are agreed upon by the International Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mr. Stewart said many uncertainties remain.

“Unlike most risks, climate change is really not readily definable and it's certainly not monolithic in nature,” Mr. Stewart said. “Instead, it's a menacing but still largely murky threat with the potential to impact all sorts of lines of insurance.”

John G. Nevius, a partner and chair of the environmental law group in Anderson Kill & Olick P.C.'s New York office, agreed. “D&O liability (is) a major risk element, both from an insurance standpoint and similarly from an economic standpoint,” he said.

Mr. Nevius also discussed property loss and business interruption exposures and existing coverage options.

Policyholders' comprehensive general liability and D&O policies may provide coverage against climate change-related claims, but as public and governmental authorities are increasingly focused on battling the causes of global warming, litigation is likely to surge, Mr. Nevius said.

BI Senior Editor Joanne Wojcik moderated the webcast. It is available at www.Business