UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The insurance of environmental risks Ashton, Ronald Shaw


Little is known and less is understood about the insurability of liabilities for environmental damage or about the need for, nature, extent or value of the coverages offered by the insurance industry in this field. It is the object of this work to canvass these matters. At the outset, it is sought to focus attention upon the existing environmental liability risks and to i(identify some of the new common law theories that are evolving to meet the demands of society's emerging "environmental consciousness" and thereby broadening the area of risk. Against this background, the provisions of the available environmental liability insurance facilities are then presented in detail, examined and evaluated. Since it cannot be assumed ipso facto that all environmental liabilities are insurable, the insurability question is addressed in the light of the orthodoxies of public policy and insurance principle. Finally, this thesis inquires whether liability insurance can make a positive contribution to environmental regulation and to the promotion of sound environmental values. The first conclusion drawn herein is that the area of risk is sufficiently broad to warrant serious attention both from those at risk and from the insurance industry. Traditional liability insurance facilities are assessed to be inadequate and negative in their handling of the risks, falling considerably short of the goal of effective coverage. However, the new Environmental Impairment Liability Policy is seen as something of a "light in the dark". It is not without its shortcomings (these are adverted to and changes recommended) but, generally speaking, is a worthwhile initiative and a useful model for future development. On the question of the role of liability insurance in environmental regulation, it is concluded that there are indeed ways and means by which the insurance mechanism can help, provided that people in the insurance industry are appropriately motivated.

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