A New York state trial court ruled on May 8 that asbestos claims arising out of a policyholder's installation of asbestos-containing materials fell within the policy's premises-operations hazard rather than the policy's products hazard. Continental Cas. Co., et. al v. Employers Insurance Co., et al., No. 601037/03 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 8, 2007). This is one of the first decisions nationwide to address whether claims against a policyholder who is an asbestos insulator could be characterized as premises-operations claims, rather than products-hazard claims. The decision, if it stands, could result in the expansion of coverage, particularly under policies that do not contain a premises-operations hazard aggregate limit.
This case considered whether asbestos claims brought by claimants alleging exposure during the policyholder's installation of asbestos products fall within the policy's products-hazard or its premises-operations coverage. The court ruled that the operations hazard was implicated here. The court reasoned as follows: "The risks of injuries during operations grows out [sic] the use of the asbestos products during the operations. This is to be distinguished from the risks growing only from the product itself, not from the installer's use of it."