Pollution Exclusion in CGL Policies: Navigating Scope of the Exclusion in Light of Differing Court Interpretations

Insurer and Policyholder Perspectives

A live 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A

Thursday, November 7, 2019

1:00pm-2:30pm EST, 10:00am-11:30am PST

Early Registration Discount Deadline, Friday, October 11, 2019

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will provide insurance counsel with a review of the scope of varying forms of the pollution exclusion clause in commercial general liability (CGL) policies, the differing court interpretations of the exclusion, and best arguments for insurers and policyholders for either avoiding or maximizing coverage.


The pollution exclusion in commercial general liability (CGL) policies is one of the more heavily litigated issues in environmental coverage claims. Courts wrestle with the distinctions between traditional and nontraditional pollution, with little unanimity on whether the total pollution exclusion applies to nontraditional pollution.

The pollution exclusion likely qualifies as the most misapplied and misunderstood exclusion within the CGL policy. Errors in application of the pollution exclusion are varied, ranging from a failure to grasp the injury or damage's true proximate cause to an improper interpretation of the pollution exclusion itself. Courts further contribute to this misunderstanding through inconsistent rulings across jurisdictions.

Very recent case law on the pollution exclusion covers the spectrum. A Louisiana court recently denied an excess insurer's bid for summary judgment, finding that the insurer's interpretation of a pollution exclusion would lead to "absurd results."

Listen as our authoritative panel of practitioners discusses the scope of the pollution exclusion in CGL policies, the most recent case law developments, and perspectives for both insurers and policyholders arguing the applicability of the exclusion.



  1. Pollution exclusion provision language
  2. Traditional pollution vs. nontraditional pollution
  3. Recent case law developments and case studies


The panel will review these and other significant questions:

  • How do courts make the distinction between traditional and nontraditional sources of pollution?
  • What are the most recent developments in applying the pollution exclusion to damages?


Allen, Elise
Elise D. Allen

Special Counsel

Ms. Allen has often litigated complex, high value, and high exposure commercial disputes on behalf of her insurance...  |  Read More

Michael H. Sampson
Michael H. Sampson

Reed Smith

Mr. Sampson's practice is focused on representing corporate policyholders in complicated coverage disputes with...  |  Read More

Harckham, Finley
Finley T. Harckham

Anderson Kill

Mr. Harckham regularly represents and advises corporate policyholders in insurance coverage matters. He has...  |  Read More

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