State leaders could impact clean-up of polluted sites

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INDIANAPOLIS – Neighborhood redevelopment groups are concerned about a proposal moving through the Indiana statehouse that they claim could act as a barrier to future environmental cleanups and revitalization efforts.

HB1241 would prevent insurance companies from having to pay for certain environmental cleanups unless the business owner sought out additional environmental pollution coverage.

“It would definitely be a blow to something, that even now, there are not enough resources to do it,” said Bill Taft, LISC Executive Director.
He said the proposal would take away much-needed funding from local neighborhood groups and government agencies.

Often on the list of problem properties are gas stations, dry cleaners, and abandoned industrial site.

“The old owner, the old insurance policy, should help pay for that cleanup,” said Representative Justin Moed, (D) Indianapolis.

But Representative Martin Carbaugh, (R), the bill sponsor, said general liability insurance coverage was not intended for this purpose.

“If it continues, and they’re [insurance companies] going to have the risk to pay these claims, we’re going to see general liability contract increases in premiums across the board,” he said.

Carbaugh said, under the proposal, businesses could seek out additional coverage for potential environmental pollution.
It would not be mandatory, but insurance companies would be asked to send out a reminder.

“I think we’re going to find the most impact on our small businesses that have a basic policy of maybe $500 a year,” said Carbaugh who estimated 50 percent increases or more in  premiums.

“People see it as a lost resource for their community, and also the opportunity for the future,” said Taft.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Insurance Committee. It passed in the House.