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January 20, 2015Published Article

Wis. High Court Case Will Impact Farm Insurance Policies

Law360

On Dec. 30, 2014, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed a court of appeals decision in Wilson Mutual Insurance Co. v. Falk, holding that manure that contaminates a well is a “pollutant” and damages arising from the contamination are therefore not covered under a farm’s general liability insurance policy. In its holding, the state supreme court rejected arguments that manure application is a beneficial and ordinary agricultural practice warranting coverage, and instead found that an insurance company could rely on a standard pollution exclusion clause to deny coverage. Following this decision, it is critical that farmers (and their lawyers) understand how an insurance policy defines a “pollutant,” how the policy exclusions would apply to each operation and agricultural activity and whether additional coverage, such as specialized pollution coverage, may be warranted to mitigate the risk of loss caused by manure applications.

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