The Dangers of Pollution Liability: Environmental Insurance


Recently, Barry Geisler, Divisional Senior Vice President and Chief Underwriting Officer of the Great American Environmental, was featured within the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) industry newsletter. In this article, he discussed the intricacies of environmental exposures and how Great American can help protect against hazardous pollution risks posed in brownfield redevelopment projects.

“Although you didn’t create the problem, you may be held financially responsible for the outcome.”

Due to the concerns around historical site contamination, redevelopment professionals may consider investing in environmental insurance to help mitigate operational exposure while moving forward on a project. “Professionals typically purchase environmental insurance because they are aware of an existing issue or a potential exposure – not necessarily an issue that may occur, but rather an incident that has already taken place,” Geisler said. A critical part in planning for any redevelopment project is investigating your environmental insurance needs. In most cases, site owners are held liable for any contamination.

“Unfortunately, it is common that many professionals buy environmental policies after they have a bad experience,” Geisler said.

At Great American Environmental, we work on a wide variety of redevelopment sites.

“One great thing about environmental insurance is that it’s not a cookie-cutter due diligence process. We believe that every site’s risk is different and should be underwritten on its own unique characteristics and exposures. Our team has the ability to tailor clients’ policies to find acceptable coverage specific to the risks and contaminants at the location,” Geisler said. 

The Environmental Division at Great American continuously monitors and responds to the changing regulatory and technical landscape surrounding emerging contaminants such as Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS). Though we must reconcile the long-term nature of many environmental policies with changes in regulations. We now investigate potential PFAS exposure in every site risk assessment.

“Fortunately, we have a great internal technical staff who provide comprehensive risk services to our team. In addition to helping support our underwriters, they keep abreast of the changing regulatory community

Great American serves as a National Sponsor and Visionary Member of CCLR due to a common focus on providing service to organizations and the belief that redevelopment has a positive impact on the environment.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to work with organizations that align with our values. We have a large number of engineers, former consultants and professionals who have a history and passion for environmental science, Geisler said. “We appreciate CCLR’s continued learning initiatives that provide training and technical support to their constituents and members. At Great American, our Environmental Division strives to offer these similar types of services to our clients as well. It really seemed like an organization that not only aligns with what we do from a business perspective, but also from the social and environmental responsibility standpoint which we try to promote.” 

“Regardless if you purchase a policy from us, we are always happy to provide environmental risk management guidance to anyone,” Geisler said. “Service is our number one priority. When you purchase an insurance policy with Great American, you are connected with a technical representative, a claims professional, and a qualified underwriter who collectively provide you with responsive support throughout your policy term.”

Looking for more information on how environmental insurance can help combat the complexities of redevelopment coverage? Feel free to contact us to set up a virtual meeting!

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The Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) is the leading national nonprofit dedicated to transforming communities through land recycling. CCLR’s main goal is converting abandoned or vacant commercial or industrial properties to functional pieces of the community in order to create jobs and generate new tax revenues. Their work transforms communities through educating government agencies and the private sector to create optimal conditions for reinvestment. Over the past 20 years, they have assisted a multitude of places across the U.S. with funding through grants and aligning proper training for community specialists through professional workshops, events and conferences.

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Barry Geisler, Divisional Senior Vice President
Great American Environmental Division

Barry is a Divisional Senior Vice President and Chief Underwriting Officer for the Great American Environmental Division, leading our Executive Underwriting team. He has been with the Environmental Division for the past ten years. Barry’s prior experience includes serving as contracts counsel within the environmental insurance space as well as working on complex commercial and defense litigation. He is based out of our Exton, Pennsylvania office.

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