Many companies are sitting on buried treasure and are not even aware of it. Where is the buried treasure? It's in their insurance policies. Many older insurance policies may provide coverage for liabilities resulting from long-tail exposures, such as environmental claims and asbestos claims. Older policies may lack exclusions, such as the "absolute" pollution exclusion, that are prevalent in more recent policies. These older policies can sometimes provide literally millions of dollars to pay defense costs and to respond to claims for bodily injury or property damage.

Buried treasure may also be found in claims files. A company may have put a carrier on notice of a claim which the carrier denied. Several years later, the company may have come out of pocket hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to defend and settle the claim. The carrier may have erroneously denied the claim, or it may have taken an aggressive position not clearly supported by the law. Sometimes, the law may have changed in a way that no longer supports the denial. In such instances, it may be possible to recover some or all of the defense and settlement costs.

For more information on finding buried treasure in your insurance policies, check out this article that I wrote with my law partner, Jim Leonard, that appeared in the Corporate Counselor. If your company has long tail liabilities or regularly faces claims, it is worth the time to consult with coverage counsel. Even if you have a single significant claim that has been denied, you should consider having coverage counsel review the denial.