Interns in Environmental Insurance: A Summer Summarized

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The Environmental Division had the pleasure of welcoming two interns this past summer – Grant Powelson and Tricia McHale. To capture their perspective of working in the field, the following article demonstrates how they managed to learn the fundamentals of environmental insurance in a matter of months. Let’s hear about the tactics and tools they utilized to kickstart their knowledge!

First, let’s talk about the initial need for environmental insurance. It’s no secret that the natural environment isn’t in great shape. Environmental issues are increasingly growing in both severity and frequency and an overwhelming majority are due to human activity. One such activity is pollution; every year, around one trillion gallons of untreated sewage and industrial waste invades the U.S. water supply.1 Fortunately, government regulations are being put in place to enforce proper cleanup and disposal of hazardous wastes, which will reduce the impact businesses have on the environment. Despite these regulations, pollution incidents are inevitable. There is some sort of environmental pollution exposure in nearly every industry.

Thankfully, with environmental insurance, businesses may be covered for certain losses or damages resulting from unexpected releases of pollutants, an occurrence that is typically excluded in most general liability and property insurance policies. Unlike surprise birthday parties, surprise pollution events are never fun, and chances are, there won’t be any cake. But, you can always count on Great American Environmental to help deal with the unexpected and get your clients back to doing ‘business as usual’.

Learning the Fundamentals of Environmental Insurance

Grant Powelson

Grant Powelson, Business Development Intern

Third year at The Ohio State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a specialization in marketing and a minor in environment, economy, development and sustainability. Throughout his internship, Grant focused his efforts on supporting marketing and business development for the Division.

Grant's Insight

A crucial factor in growing my understanding of the environmental insurance field has been my insight on the development of the Environmental Division’s groundbreaking podcast, Discover What We Cover. The platform (or podcast) is the first of its kind at Great American, with episodes covering industry trends, the Division’s policy offerings and frequently asked questions in environmental insurance. The podcast is designed to be easily digestible for brokers. I have had the privilege of assisting with the script development and episode editing for this podcast, which has proven to be an incredible educational experience.

To view our latest episodes, visit our podcast webpage and subscribe today!

Environmental Division Podcast!


The need for environmental insurance is seemingly everywhere, yet many industries are misinformed about its true purpose or are simply unaware of the exclusions in their current policies. So, as another facet of my role, I researched underinsured industries to potentially increase our breadth of coverage and inform businesses about possible gaps in coverage. This research tightened my grasp on just how applicable environmental insurance can be; from chemical distribution to supply chain and logistics, it plays a pivotal role in hedging against risk. When most people think about environmental insurance, Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) often come to mind, but tank coverage is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our available coverages. Our environmental policies cover various business operations, including contractors, commercial lenders and beyond.

Lastly, another project that facilitated my growth in the environmental insurance field was the in-depth review of our education platform, Broker Toolkit. The online platform includes numerous helpful guides and fact sheets for our products, claims scenarios, success stories and specific Environmental Insider articles that could prove relevant to brokers. What proved most beneficial to me about these resources was the extent to which we provide detailed information about our products and their coverages, demonstrating a commitment to education and open communication.

In summation, environmental insurance may seem complex at first, and the plethora of acronyms, risks and coverages can be intimidating. But, once you have a fundamental understanding of available coverages, and you think environmental insurance is right for your clients, our underwriters will work tirelessly with you to tear down the intricacies at work and create a collaborative and communicative classroom.

Key Takeaways

  •   Environmental risk is inherent in nearly every industry. Make sure to speak with an underwriter to help you determine where this risk exists in your client’s business operations and learn how our team can help.
  •   To learn about environmental insurance, as with all things, you must start at the fundamentals; then, our team can guide you from there with our various educational resources.
Tricia McHale

Tricia McHale, Marketing and Branding Intern

Fourth year student at The Ohio State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a specialization in marketing and double minor in Spanish and international business. This summer, Tricia supported the marketing and branding efforts for the Division.

Tricia's Insight

It may seem overwhelming to navigate the inner workings of environmental insurance policies, but the experts at Great American strive to develop resources to make it simple to understand coverage, risk factors and product enhancements. Whether you’re a broker looking to expand your environmental offerings, a veteran in environmental lines of insurance, or new to the industry like myself, our team is ready to support you in learning the ins and outs of the field. As an intern working remotely, I was able to absorb a plethora of knowledge on current events, emerging research on pollutants and the key advantages of obtaining an environmental insurance policy because of my conversations with our talented team members.

Insurance can be seen as strictly a numbers game—writing policies, evaluating risk and ensuring the financial stability of the insured. However, there is nuance involved in providing comprehensive coverage to those who need it, and that often begins with broker relationships. My introduction to the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with brokers was assisting our underwriters on the Environmental Family Cookbook, a small yet impactful token of appreciation to the many incredible brokers we work with on a daily basis. Having a firsthand look at the interactions between members of our team and their brokers allowed me to understand the importance of a maintaining a personal connection with those we serve.

Enjoy cooking? Fill out the form below to receive your copy of the Environmental’s Family Cookbook throughout the year and start ‘whipping’ together festive dishes. We hope you enjoy!

Environmental's Family Cookbook


Learning the basic principles of environmental insurance in just a few months was possible because of time spent speaking with both seasoned Great American employees as well as the newest members of our team.

The diverse perspectives of the underwriting, management, legal, claims and marketing teams here at Great American Environmental gave me the opportunity to seamlessly transition into the world of environmental insurance.

The final stage of nearly mastering a subject is when you can explain its ideas to someone who is also interested in learning—and this was a realization for me when I assisted the team on drafting a script for an upcoming product video for the Division. From researching our coverage and industry-standard practices to discussing policies with the underwriters and identifying claims scenarios, the entire drafting process educated me on not only the industry, but niche product knowledge as well.

Key Takeaways

  •   The insurance industry is built upon relationships, and Great American Environmental takes great pride in maintaining strong connections with all our brokers and clients through our commitment to excellent service.
  •   Because of the complexities inherent in the fields that necessitate environmental coverage, collaboration with experts is essential. Between our underwriters, technical support staff, and claims team we will ensure you are educated on the risks you may face while we underwrite a comprehensive policy.

Ready to learn more?

They say that it takes just 21 days to form a habit, which is why we interns made it a habit to discuss environmental insurance coverage over the summer. No matter your industry knowledge, Great American Environmental has the experts to guide you through the process. If you’re interested in learning more, our Broker Toolkit and Environmental Glossary are great resources to keep up to date on environmental topics and hard-to-remember acronyms. More importantly, our team is ready to assist you in answering any questions to help you find the coverage that your clients may need! So, the ball is in your court now; contact us today to get started.