Time could be running out for some companies hoping to file an insurance claim over damage caused by the Gulf Coast oil spill.
At least that's what lawyers at Jenner & Block are warning their clients. The Chicago-based firm has issued a practice advisory noting that some insurers are taking the position that the deadline to file pollution claims, either for current or future damages, will have passed as of Thursday, 5 p.m. Eastern standard time.
Insurance coverage attorney Lorelie Masters, a partner in Jenner's Washington office, said that last week she received an e-mail from Marsh Inc., the global insurance broker, warning that insurance companies will be enforcing deadlines and notice requirements that are often part of policies that allow business-interruption claims tied to pollution.
According to Masters, such pollution policies often require companies to file a notice within a certain fixed period of time -- in many cases, 80 days from the date of the incident that led to the damage. Since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, those 80 days are arguably up on July 8.
Masters stressed that if companies believe they have sustained, or may in the future, sustain damages or business interruption due to the oil spill, they should immediately examine all notice requirements in their insurance policies. She also urged them to compile information on the extent and nature of the business interruption to support a claim. Examples of such information might include records of cancellations, records enabling comparisons of business done in the wake of the oil spill versus a comparable period in 2009, and records showing delays in receipt of needed goods due to shipping delays in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Pull out your policy and look at it and make sure you're not in a situation where you unwittingly let this notice period pass," Masters said.