Posted: 6/11/2013

Oregon: Governor Signs Controversial Pollution Liability Bill

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law on June 10 NAMIC-opposed SB 814, Insurance for Environmental Claims. NAMIC, in conjunction with its members and other insurance stakeholders, opposed the proposed legislation because SB 814 interferes with an insurer’s right to enforce the terms of their insuring agreement.

NAMIC asserted to the Legislature and the governor that the pollution liability bill will dramatically impact insurance defense costs and insurance claims liability exposure, which will adversely impact affordability of insurance for consumers.

SB 814 will retroactively rewrite commercial general liability insurance policies to require insurers to provide pollution clean-up coverage that was never agreed to by the parties, underwritten by the insurer, and paid for by the policyholder. The new law will be a problem for ALL insurers, not just commercial insurers, because it establishes a very troubling legislative precedence of ignoring the Oregon state Constitution, overturning recent court rulings on pollution liability claims, and retroactively interfering with the contractual rights and responsibilities of insurers and policyholders.

NAMIC will be working with the other insurance trades to explore the legal feasibility of successfully challenging the unconstitutional provisions in SB 814.

Christian J. Rataj
State Affairs Manager