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Triple-I Weblog | PFAS-Associated Litigation Could Sign an Rising Legal responsibility for Insurers

Max Dorfman, Analysis Author, Triple-I

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)—a diversified group of human-made chemical substances utilized in an array of shopper and industrial merchandise—current a brand new potential legal responsibility for insurers, as U.S. regulatory exercise continues to vary, with lawsuit outcomes indicating this is a matter that may proceed to develop.

PFAS, which have existed because the Thirties, are creating concern due to how ubiquitous they’re, in addition to their potential to hurt folks’s lives. They’re utilized in every little thing from Teflon coatings to meals packaging to firefighting foam, as a result of their capability to withstand oil and moisture. These qualities are additionally probably damaging as a result of they usually keep within the human physique, by no means solely breaking down.

Although research surrounding PFAS are usually not conclusive, they’ve been related to most cancers, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and thyroid illness. Their pervasiveness means everybody probably has some quantity of PFAS of their blood stream. There may be concern about their presence in water provides, as properly.

“PFAS are water soluble and dissolve readily in soil,” stated Cindy Wilk, World Environmental Legal responsibility Knowledgeable, Allianz Threat Consulting at AGCS. “An industrial accident or firefighting incident may end up in their launch into water sources, making native communities weak, however PFAS may also migrate rapidly by groundwater pathways to infect areas removed from their authentic supply.”

PFAS litigation continues to rise

PFAS litigation has seen large progress over the previous 20 years, starting with a lawsuit filed in opposition to DuPont, the corporate that makes Teflon. DuPont was accused of contaminating water from a plant in West Virginia—leading to a settlement to offer as much as $235 million for medical monitoring of over 70,000 folks. A number of comparable lawsuits have adopted.

As of 2021, greater than 5,000 PFAS-related complaints have been filed in 40 courts, with 193 defendants in 82 industries.

Moreover, in 2021, the PFAS Motion Act handed the Home and set the Environmental Safety Company (EPA) on the latest course towards creating new PFAS requirements. The act doesn’t embrace a legal responsibility exception for water-wastewater utilities, even if these entities are usually not the supply of PFAS, thus inflicting concern that they would be the goal of civil litigation

How can insurers reply?

Though the Insurance coverage Companies Workplace (ISO) has not produced a PFAS-specific exclusion for industrial legal responsibility insurance policies, work is being accomplished on a draft exclusion, which might be printed in late 2022. With that course of nonetheless underway, a number of PFAS-related exclusions are circulating, some as a modification to the Whole Air pollution Exclusion or by establishing a stand-alone PFAS exclusion. Nonetheless, insurers have to be cautious of the potential liabilities, because the Biden Administration’s regulatory deal with PFAS may result in elevated litigation.

Reinsurer Gen Re recommends that insurers:

  • Take stock of beforehand underwritten dangers;
  • Rigorously contemplate new dangers at submissions; and
  • Hold abreast of PFAS, each as to scientific developments and the litigation that it spawns.


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