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

Insurer and Policyholder Perspectives

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, November 7, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Program Materials

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


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

Hans, Pamela
Pamela D. Hans

Anderson Kill

Ms. Hans’ practice concentrates in the area of insurance coverage exclusively on behalf of policyholders. Ms....  |  Read More

Kilgarriff, John
John Kilgarriff

Vice President
The Graham Company

Mr. Kilgarriff is responsible for providing both day-to-day and strategic risk management services to clients. Before...  |  Read More

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