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Absolute Pollution Exclusion

Absolute Pollution Exclusion

What Is Absolute Pollution Exclusion?

Absolute pollution exclusion is a commercial liability insurance policy clause that eliminates coverage of pollution coming about because of ordinary business operations. Absolute pollution exclusions to comprehensive general liability insurance policies became common after 1986 when standard pollution exclusions presently not contained "unexpected and coincidental" pollution incidents.

Seeing Absolute Pollution Exclusion

Absolute pollution exclusions occurred in response to government regulations of environmentally hurtful materials. Section of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) set the stage for lawsuits against companies associated with industries that brought about pollution to the natural ecosystem.

Maybe the most notable case included the Montrose Chemical Corporation of California, which created dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT. The company released squander into the Pacific Ocean for quite a long time, and a federal claim required the company to pay for the environmental cleanup costs coming about because of the waste it created.

In response to claims made against Montrose, insurers brought a number of lawsuits, including Montrose Chemical Corp. v. Chief naval officer Insurance Co., with an end goal to push responsibility for the claims to Montrose. Their contention was that pollution was not "unexpected and inadvertent" and had been happening for a long time. Thus, they were not at risk for it. After several cases left the insurance companies responsible for cleanup coverage, insurers started excluding coverage of pollution as a standard coverage thing.

Absolute pollution exclusions are not true absolute exclusions in that they really do permit coverage for incidental pollution events, for example, those brought about by events not connected with normal business operations. In particular, they contain six exemptions. Two are connected with proprietor/inhabitant express exclusion and four are connected with contractors.

Since it might give coverage in certain circumstances, the absolute pollution clause in insurance contracts is some of the time alluded to as a broad form of the pollution exclusion. A [clause that denies coverage](/hold-innocuous clause) for all pollution events would be considered a total pollution exclusion and may reject liability coverage for substantial injury or property damage brought about by a pollution event.

The utilization of an absolute pollution exclusion might in any case leave the definition of what is considered a pollution debatable. Courts might address the issue of what is considered pollution. Insurers have an incentive to consider a broad scope of events as connected with pollution, including lead paint and asbestos damage, to be excluded in light of the fact that they would rather not pay for claims.

Common Exceptions to Absolute Pollution Exclusion

  • Substantial injury supported in a building owned by, occupied by, leased to, or lent to an insured whenever brought about by smoke, exhaust, fume, or sediment delivered by or starting from equipment that is utilized to intensity, cool, or dehumidify the building, or intensity water for personal use by the building's tenants or visitors.
  • Substantial injury or property damage in a building owned by, occupied by, leased to, or credited to an insured, or at a premises on which an insured contractor is working if from intensity, smoke, or exhaust from a hostile fire.
  • Substantial injury or property damage emerging out of the unexpected break of fuels, oils, or other operating necessary liquids to perform important capabilities for the operation of mobile equipment or parts. The loss must happen at an off-premises site at which the insured is performing operations.
  • Substantial injury or property damage supported inside a building and brought about by the release of gases, exhaust, or fumes from materials brought into that building in connection with operations being performed by the insured or its subcontractor.


  • Absolute pollution exclusions are not total pollution exclusions, which reject company liability from all pollution-related claims, and contain six special cases.
  • The exclusions became well known during the 1980s after a wave of lawsuits against dirtying companies gave insurers the shaft for claims.
  • Absolute pollution exclusions in insurance contracts help insurance companies eliminate their liability for pollution-related lawsuits including their customers.