An unresolved issue of Tennessee coverage law: The scope of pollution exclusions

Source:, February 7, 2024
By: Junaid N. Savani

Insurers often include exclusions within their liability policies to prohibit coverage for claims arising out of pollution exposure. The exact wording of the exclusion can differ significantly, but the key issue is whether the underlying allegations fall within the scope of the exclusion.

In this regard, there are “two distinct views” on the scope of pollution exclusions. Sulphuric Acid Trading Co. v. Greenwich Ins. Co., 211 S.W.3d 243, 245 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006). One theory “maintains that the exclusion applies only to traditional environmental pollution into the air, water, and soil, but generally not to all injuries involving the negligent use or handling of toxic substances that occur in the normal course of business.” Id. at 252. “The other camp maintains that the clause applies equally to negligence involving toxic substances and traditional environmental pollution, and that the clause is as unambiguous in excluding the former as the latter.” Id. Read more.

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