Cindy Hunter, global head of environmental specialty claims, says the ability to tap into a multiskilled pool of specialist claim handlers is highly valued by both its clients and the brokerage community. Over $300m (€236m) was paid in environmental claims last year, she says – a figure that looks set to continue trending upwards as the business grows.
“Specialization is a big part of what distinguishes AIG claims from our competitors,” says Hunter. “Not only do we have internal consultants but our claims professionals – there are over 90 on our team – have the skill sets to deal with all types of remediation and clean up claims. We have a large team of technical professionals, engineers and accountants assisting with any claim adjusting needs for our insureds. We work very closely with the vendor management organization within AIG to find partners, and if we need to broaden our expertise beyond our internal network, then we liaise with an external vendor to meet those needs.”
“We can deal with an entire gamut of claims and we’re very proactive with how we address them”
Cindy Hunter Global head of environmental specialty claims, AIG
Over the years, AIG claims has established strong relationships with companies who have many different specializations, whether it is having expertise in landfills, storage tanks and pipelines or mould and water treatment.
“We can deal with an entire gamut of claims and we’re very proactive with how we address them,” she says. “We work closely with insureds and brokers and never turn to third-party administrators or independent adjusters. I encourage my claims adjusters to meet with our insureds; if there’s a mediation, we’re at the table. We have the expertise to get the job done.”
Surveys are sent out by the Environmental Specialty Claims organization when each claim is closed to provide feedback. That data is evaluated to determine what changes can be implemented to make the process even better.
AIG insurer policyholders have the benefit of accessing a comprehensive environmental network with 13 regional claim offices in the US and Canada, as well as numerous sites worldwide. Hunter says this global network has the capability to provide policies and support to customers around the world, drawing on the talents of its staff in any of AIG’s four commercial insurance areas: Financial Lines, Property, Casualty and Specialty.
“There are a wide variety of environmental claims,” says Hunter, “and they typically have a longer cycle than general liability claims because of the investigation stage and deciding on the proper remedy. It’s not unheard of for a claim to be open for several years and each one is unique.
“Take a train derailment, for example. We may insure the railroad or the rail cars, the responders or the owners of the chemicals. We can insure many different entities along the chain.”
Whatever the claim, the team is focused on the customer, she adds. Liaising throughout with policyholder, broker, law firms and vendors allows claims to be resolved efficiently and effectively. Communication is key, not only to make the claims process more seamless but to provide the opportunity to benefit from all available services. “A lot of our insureds don’t realize some of the services we have – if they talk to us early in a claim, we are able to have a more proactive approach by engaging experts and offering advice. AIG insurers not only provide an insurance policy but a complete package.”
That is why, she adds, AIG Environmental’s offering of over 30 products and programs has proven so successful within AIG’s portfolio, including the Pollution Incident and Environmental Response® (PIER) program that provides insureds with access to qualified contractors.
“In the worst possible situations, our insureds have this additional service to help them enlist emergency response vendors with pre-negotiated rates. Chemical distributors tend to have their own network in place and usually follow their own protocol. Many of our insureds are very sophisticated and have well thought through emergency preparedness plans. Others may not. We have a strong team ready to respond and address their needs.”
AIG ENVIRONMENTAL IS READY TO ACT
Whatever the size or severity of an incident, the AIG Environmental team is on hand to help insureds resume normal operation quickly, while minimising remediation and liability costs. Here are examples of past AIG cases:A fire began in the chemical storage area of a distribution facility located near residential and commercial properties. Two thirds of the facility was affected despite in-place firewalls. Two Haz-Mat firefighters were injured and local agencies conducted air monitoring during the incident. Claim resolution required clean-up of released chemicals and contaminated water as well as settlements with third party plaintiffs. An employee at a warehouse and chemical repackaging facility fell asleep while loading solvent from a storage tank into a tanker truck. Before product recovery from the containment area was complete, it was discovered that a valve in the containment area was left open and the solvent was released to soil, groundwater and a wetlands area, requiring clean-up. A fire started in the above ground storage tank farm area of a chemical blending, packaging and distribution facility. Fuel tanks and plastic totes containing caustic materials nearby were also compromised by the fire. Chemicals escaped secondary containment areas and were released onto surrounding soil, requiring clean-up. A tanker truck owned and operated by a chemical distributor overturned during icy conditions. Excavation of contaminated soils was needed and additional soil and groundwater sampling was obtained. Sampling showed further remediation was needed due to high pH levels of the released substance.