Insurance Archaeology

Estate Planning: What about Contaminated Properties?

Ben Pariser


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Over the years Restorical Research has had a number of clients that either operated a business or owned property that has spanned several generations. These are businesses and families who have worked hard and unfortunately, due to the nature of the businesses and operations, they suspect that there may be an environmental problem. This is an issue of concern when it comes to estate planning.

These environmental issues can reduce the overall value as well as cause financial problems. For this reason, most of these clients have never done an investigation to find out if they have an environmental problem on their hands, even though they have become aware of more and more environmental regulations over time.

In many instances, these environmental issues may not be discovered (or uncovered) until a transformative event takes place; selling a business, placing assets into an estate for future generations (estate planning), the death of a spouse or business partner, etc. The business or family is now faced with selling or transferring their business and property. During the due diligence of these transactions, information such as a Phase I Environmental Assessment is usually commissioned and it is at this time that a contamination issue has been realized and/or confirmed.

This can be a real shock for the businesses and families dealing with this recently discovered environmental liability. Concerns about the financial impact as well as the risk of losing what they have worked long and hard to build and grow are understandable.

It is often at this time that Restorical Research is contacted to assist our clients through experience, guidance and direction.

These families and businesses may not understand that they have a “hidden” asset in the form of historic Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) policies. Old CGL policies generally did not exclude pollution claims and can provide coverage for environmental contamination generated decades ago. These policies were commonly purchased by businesses and property owners to provide coverage from third party liabilities, such as contamination.

Restorical Research specializes in locating historic insurance policies that do not contain an effective pollution exclusion and assisting our clients in obtaining funding for the investigation and remediation of contaminated sites. Restorical Research leads our clients on a path of successful coverage of the environmental matter, no matter how big or small. We work to help ensure the estate is preserved and/or the next generation can go forward free of the financial burden associated with environmental liabilities.

Contact us today to start working on your case.

We are not attorneys, this is not legal advice. 

Ben Pariser

One of Ben’s favorite parts of insurance archeology is knowing Restorical is making a difference, helping to clean up the environment one polluted property at a time while also changing people’s lives.


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