Marsh Warns PolicyHolders: Notify Your Carriers of BP-related Damages NOW

July 6, 2010

Gulf Coast businesspeople and residents facing the possibility of losses because of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been advised to submit written notice to their insurance companies as soon as possible, and no later than Thursday, July 8th, at 5:00 PM EDT.

Global insurance broker, Marsh, issued a statement via its website explaining that insurers are saying that the 80-day notice provisions in their policies will be strictly interpreted. For this reason, policyholders should consider April 20, 2010, the date of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, as the start date for calculating such a notice provision.

Marsh advised, “This week, several carriers indicated that they will enforce these time limits strictly, without any weight given to the date the insured first became aware that they faced potential exposure. Therefore, if not already in process, it is important that clients and their legal counsel analyze the potential exposure to damages arising from the Deepwater Event and review all of their current excess and primary policies in order to comply with notice provisions.”

The broker also added that some excess liability carriers are planning to add “…broadly worded, event-specific exclusions to their 2010-2011 policies to prospectively eliminate coverage for the Deepwater Event.”

This means that even if a poilicyholder files a notice in compliance with the time limit, “…it is likely that the carrier will attempt to limit its exposure prospectively via an endorsement that excludes the Deepwater Event,” according to Marsh.

Clients who opt not to notice the BP event at this time may face strictly enforced time deadlines from their insurance carriers even if all damage has not been established, or potential exposures have not been clarified.

Marsh said it is urging carriers to withdraw – or at least narrow – these exclusions, but warns that “…this is an emerging market trend that raises concerns…” with respect to 2009-2010 policies and raises questions about whether circumstances or claims should be notified now.