Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Muddying the waters on policy-stacking law

By Robert L Wallan and Rene L Siemens

Many insured accidents take place in a single moment in time — plane and car crashes, fires, floods, and other disasters usually take place during a short timeframe and fall within a single insurance policy period. But some losses, notably pollution, landslides, asbestos exposure, and other similar losses often arise from progressive injury occurring over a period of years.

General liability and property policies are usually written on an ‘occurrence’ basis, meaning they cover the injuries when they occur, even though an injury might take place over a period of years, and even though a claim might not arise until years later. For decades, policyholders and insurers have argued over how insurance should pay for these types of ‘long-tail’ claims. Policyholders have argued that in response to a long-tail claim, each policy in force while damage took place should pay up to its limits.

Primary insurers have argued that they should only have to pay on one policy year despite taking premiums over a course of years. Excess insurers have argued that not only should underlying primary policies fully pay before excess coverage is triggered, but also primary insurers from other years (not underlying the excess coverage) should also pay first in order for the excess carrier to avoid making payments…

If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the rest of the Pillsbury briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.


Tower 42, Level 23
25 Old Broad Street