Hazardous Waste

Pollution Claims Experience of Property/Casualty Insurers Gao ID: RCED-91-59 February 5, 1991

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO surveyed the potential liability of 13 property and casualty insurers for costs of cleaning up hazardous waste sites or for reimbursing the government for its cleanup of the sites.

GAO found that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified 1,200 sites as eligible for long-term, permanent cleanup under the Superfund program; (2) 9 of 13 insurers responding to the survey provided data on the claims they closed with payment in 1989; (3) those 9 respondents paid about $44,000 on each of the 2,393 claims they closed with payment in 1989; (4) insurers provided no data on the reserves they set aside to cover pending and future pollution claims, but the large number of open claims and pending lawsuits indicated that insurers had more at stake than their past pollution claims experience suggested; and (5) in 1989, each of the responding insurers spent an average of $15.8 million on lawsuits involving pollution coverage and claims against insureds by third parties.

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