Subrogation, Adjustment and Claim Closure: Indemnity Loss Reduced by $326,000
Following an investigation and subrogation action in this property pollution claim, ECC successfully shielded the insurer against $326,000 in indemnity losses. In the course of its work, the firm developed substantial evidence showing that claimed damages were not coming from the insured's UST. We also identified $75,000 in unnecessary contractor services that were improperly rendered and incorrectly charged.
Claim Adjustment and Settlement: Indemnity Loss Reduced by $650,000
ECC Horizon helped settle this property pollution claim, reducing indemnity losses by $650,000. While investigating the gasoline-contaminated claim site, we found multiple vendors providing indemnity services that were unnecessary, improperly rendered and inappropriately charged. After establishing control over the vendors' activities, and adjusting $300,000 of charges, we designed a claim settlement plan that reduced future losses by an additional $350,000.
Regulatory Liability Settlement: Indemnity Loss Reduced by $165,000
ECC Horizon obtained regulatory relief in this property pollution claim, resolving regulatory liaility and saving the insurer $165,000.00 in indemnity repair costs. We avoided a more costly settlement by negotiating flexible compliance requirements with State officials. As a result, the property was transferred to a less restrictive cleanup program that reduced the necessary repairs and allowed the case to be closed promptly.
Remediation of Foreclosed Property: Indemnity Cost Savings: $1,000,000+
ECC Horizon recently resolved this pollution claim involving subsurface chlorinated solvent impacts beneath a former dry cleaning facility. The claim had been transferred to ECC Horizon after 12 years of ineffective investigations by prior experts who estimated varying cleanup costs ranging from $1.3 to $3.4 million.
ECC Horizon reviewed historical data from the site and conducted supplemental testing to assess soil and groundwater. Although soil contamination was confirmed, groundwater impacts were not found. As a result, ECC Horizon was able to guarantee a fixed cost to remediate the property for significantly less than previous experts had proposed.
This claim was further complicated by the insured’s insolvency and uncertain property ownership. Citing liability concerns, the bank mortgagee would not authorize access and remediation. ECC Horizon resolved this problem by temporarily assuming the lender’s mortgage position, completing indemnity repairs, closing the claim, and returning the unencumbered property to the lender.
Using ECC Horizon’s fixed cost guarantee and property assumption strategy, the site was remediated for $275,000, saving the insurer group at least $1 million in indemnity repair costs.
Compliance Costs Reduced: Indemnity Loss Adjusted by $4 Million
As part of a claim settlement plan, ECC Horizon lowered its insurer partners’ loss reserves by $4 million in this contamination claim involving groundwater and soil impacts at a metal processing site in Indiana.
The policyholder’s repair called for $5 million to demolish a building located on contaminated soil, and remove chlorinated groundwater over 14 years. In reviewing the plan, we found that polluted groundwater could not be extracted through the site’s impermeable clay soils. We also concluded that demolishing the building was unnecessary because the underlying soil impacts did not require excavation.
We designed an alternative plan to dechlorinate the groundwater impacts in-place, and avoid demolishing the building. After managing and adjusting the resulting repairs as part of the final claim closure, the matter is expected to close for $4 million less than originally proposed and 11 years earlier than previously scheduled.
Capital Improvements Claimed as Indemnity Repairs: $270,000 Loss Adjustment
ECC Horizon protected insurers from paying $270,000 in unnecessary charges for facility upgrades unrelated to claimed damages arising from a covered event.
The insured discharged crude oil at a claimant’s oil storage facility. The claimant remediated the oil impacts but also upgraded and replaced its storage facilities, which were improvements unrelated to the spill. The claimant, however, combined its cleanup and capital upgrade costs, demanding reimbursement from the insurers for both activities as claimed damages.
We inspected the facility, conducted tests, and interviewed witnesses and experts. Only $30,000 of the claimed charges were found to be related to spill cleanup activities. The remaining $270,000 of costs arose directly from the claimant’s facility upgrades and capital improvements.
Based on our findings, this claim for $300,000 was settled for approximately $30,000.
Construction Site: Emergency Response, Loss Control, Remediation and Closure
Gasoline vapors were combusting in trench pits at this construction site, threatening excavation workers and halting work progress. We were retained to investigate the condition and cooperate with public officials to resolve the matter.
Our emergency response team found that vapors from gasoline saturated soils were collecting in trench pits and combusting from sparks caused by excavation activities. A leaking 1,000 gallon UST located nearby was found to be the contaminant source.
Working closely with government regulators, we removed the gasoline UST with special equipment and secured the contaminated area without further incident.
After securing the area, we tested the saturated soils to determine the physical extent of the damages and the time(s) of occurrence. We then excavated more than 6,000 tons of the material, which was sequestered on site.
Soil tests indicated that the UST had leaked for several years. As a result, the prior property owner accepted liability and submitted a claim to his insurer. Since the carrier had provided coverage continuously for 40 years without pollution exclusions, the insurer’s goal was to mitigate the claimed damages and settle the loss.
Resolving this claim required careful planning. Disposing of 6,000 tons of gasoline saturated soil was prohibitively expensive. As an alternative, our experts treated the gasoline impacts on site using a low cost bio-remediation method. This reduced the gasoline impacts, allowing the treated soil to be beneficially reused as a non-contaminated material.
The cost of resolving this liability was reduced by $320,000. Total claim losses were ultimately settled for 47% less than originally reserved.
Subrogation and Allocation: Indemnity Loss Reduced by $700,000
ECC Horizon recently helped settle this property pollution claim and reduced indemnity losses by $700,000.
This covered loss involved pollution damages from a leaking UST. The insured’s environmental contractor originally proposed to remediate the site for less than $9,000. After repair costs spiraled to $150,000, ECC was asked to investigate and found the contractor remediating both the current UST discharge and an underlying, larger spill that occurred prior to the coverage period.
As the older spill required extensive soil and groundwater repairs, the total compliance costs reached $850,000. These costs were increased by various contractor errors, including the use of contaminated backfill in remediated areas.
ECC’s tests showed that only $150,000 of the repair costs were allocable to remediating the covered spill. The remaining $700,000 of costs were allocable to repairing the older and larger contaminant impacts. In the resulting litigation, ECC’s position prevailed and $700,000 of indemnity losses were redirected to other parties.
Apartment Complex: Site Inspection, Repair, Loss Adjustment and Claim Closure
Bowling Green, KY
ECC Horizon reduced indemnity losses by $825,000 in this claim involving a leaking underground oil storage tank at a residential apartment complex.
After fuel oil was lost from the heating oil system, the property’s tanks were examined and a UST was found to be leaking. The tank was removed and subsurface soil and groundwater impacts were observed. The property owner then retained an environmental contractor to clean up the damages.
A plan was developed to remove 2,000 tons of soil and install a treatment system to remediate groundwater. The projected long-term cost of the cleanup exceeded $1 million. The insurer then retained ECC Horizon to inspect the site, qualify the damages, and review the contractor’s planned repairs.
The remediation plan called for disposing of clean soil located on top of the subsurface impacts. Since disposal was unnecessary and comprised 65% of the contractor's total removal costs, we changed the plan to re-use the clean soil for backfill. As expected, our adjustment substantially reduced the planned disposal and backfill charges.
The contractor also planned to operate a long-term treatment system at the site to address residual groundwater impacts. We determined, however, that the impacts would naturally attenuate once the oil saturated soils were removed. The contractor’s plan was then further adjusted to simply monitor groundwater and confirm its improvement after the impacted soil was removed.
ECC Horizon proposed a reduced cleanup plan and directed the repairs. The contaminated soils were disposed off-site and the overlying clean soils were returned to the excavation. Subsequent testing then confirmed that groundwater had been remediated as expected.
Further action was not required. The claim was settled without unnecessary soil disposal and long term groundwater treatment costs, reducing the indemnity loss by $825,000.
Industrial Facility: Investigation, Defense and Claim Closure
ECC Horizon protected this paint manufacturer from being wrongfully charged with releasing contaminants to a public waterway.
The manufacturer’s facility was built adjacent to a major river tributary. Pollution was observed in the tributary, which local authorities believed was paint waste dumped by the manufacturer. Multiple police raids were staged on the facility in failed attempts to discover the dumping. The manufacturer incurred substantial costs from these actions and notified its insurer. ECC Horizon was retained to investigate.
Our experts inspected the facility, examined its manufacturing processes, tested its products, and surveyed all of its discharge points. No causative link was found between the manufacturer’s products and the materials discharged to the waterway.
We ultimately discovered the suspicious materials discharging from a pipe located over 1,000 feet from the manufacturer’s facility. The material was tested and found to be non-toxic. The upstream source was later identified.
ECC Horizon presented its evidence to local, County and State officials who accepted the findings. The paint manufacturer was subsequently cleared of suspicion and resumed its operations without further incident.
Marina Gas Spill: Loss Control, Site Remediation and Closure
A fuel supplier accidentally overfilled its customer’s 2,000 gallon storage tank at a marina located along a major waterway. The tank’s emergency containment vault subsequently failed, discharging more than 1,000 gallons of gasoline into the surrounding soil and groundwater.
ECC Horizon was retained by the fuel supplier’s insurer to assess the site and direct any indemnity repairs. Thereafter, we worked closely with the Coast Guard, public officials, and the marina to develop a compliance plan that would be efficient and cost effective.
In the course of negotiating practical cleanup standards and strategies, we reduced the claim’s prospective indemnity repair costs by approximately $450,000.
After removing the gasoline storage tank, we assessed the extent of the damages. We then consulted with regulators who agreed to reduce the site’s restrictive cleanup requirements.
The contaminated soil was excavated and groundwater was remediated to the reduced cleanup criteria. The waterway itself did not require further remedial action.
Remediation Reduced by $450,000: Allocated 60% to 3rd Parties Insurer Indemnity Reduced by $930,000
ECC Horizon has resolved this claim involving UST discharges that impacted fractured shale and groundwater in a bedrock aquifer. Our investigations found extensive soil and groundwater damages within nearby properties. This included contaminated sites across a busy roadway. Estimated cleanup costs rose by 500% to $1,250,000
We traced the expanding subsurface contamination and worked with neighboring property owners to inspect their USTs. These nearby tanks were found to be contributing significantly to area-wide groundwater impacts. As a result, several adjoining property owners assumed most of the remediation costs from our client.
We remediated this complex contamination using a combination of source removal and chemical biodegradation methods. The cleanup plan was completed ahead of schedule for $450,000 less than originally estimated. In addition, over 60% of the remediation costs were paid by other property owners, saving our client $930,000.
Multi-Site Industrial Contamination: Investigation, Subrogation, Adjustment and Closure
In this claim, ECC Horizon reduced the insurers’ indemnity losses by more than $2.5 million. The claim involved three municipal properties, each containing petroleum impacts from leaking USTs.
During our review of proposed cleanup plans, we found that a government cleanup fund was liable for paying much of the remediation work before insurance reimbursements. Through our subrogation investigations, we also identified an adjoining property owner who was responsible for contaminating one of the three sites.
In reviewing work proposals from multiple vendors, we used our national database of usual and customary charges to negotiate, adjust, and substantially reduce the cleanup costs for all three sites.
In summary, our subrogation, allocation and adjustment services reduced the insurer group’s liabilities by $2.5 million. Had the group waived a pre-settlement technical review, an erroneous multimillion dollar settlement might have been made without adjusting vendor costs, obtaining available government funds, and collecting contributions owed by other responsible parties.
Complex Fuel Oil Discharge: Defense, Loss Control, Remediation, Regulatory Settlement and Closure
We defended this insurer against $1.3 million in erroneous claims and reduced its indemnity repair costs by $725,000.
The insurer’s policyholder owned a UST that discharged gasoline during multiple policy periods. We were retained to determine the cause and origin of the impacts, assess the damages, and undertake any necessary repairs.
Since the pollution impacts affected a public waterway, we also represented the insurer in state and local government hearings, and provided litigation defense support.
Our investigation and testimony provided the basis for the insurer’s successful defense against erroneous charges. Our experts showed that most of the pollution damages were caused by a third party located upstream. The insurer subrogated and won a substantial contribution from the third party.
Following subrogation and litigation, we worked closely with regulators to develop less restrictive cleanup requirements. A cost effective compliance strategy was developed and we completed the required cleanup work.
The remedial action was ultimately completed on time and under budget. As a result, the insurer’s liability was reduced by more than 65%, and its indemnity repair costs were lowered by $725,000.