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October 6, 2008

Insurance Company Will Exclude Nanotubes And Nanotechnology From Coverage

Lynn L. Bergeson

Beginning November 15, 2008, the Continental Western Insurance Group will no longer cover bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury from “nanotubes or nanotechnology in any form.” The company said its intent was to “remove coverage for the, as of yet, unknown and unknowable risks created by the products and processes that involve nanotubes.” According to the company, “reports have raised concerns regarding health risks from workers that may be inhaling carbon nanotubes during the manufacture of certain products. The carbon nanotubes resemble asbestos fibers in appearance, raising the concern that they may cause illness similar to that linked to asbestos.” The company concluded that it would not be prudent “to knowingly provide coverage for risks that are, as of yet, unknown and unquantifiable. We are all too aware of what happened to companies involved in asbestos-related exposures in the past, and see this as a very similar issue. By excluding coverage for bodily injury and property damage specifically caused by nanotubes and nanotechnology, we can continue to provide coverage for other exposures in the multitude of companies and products using nanotechnology now and in the future.” According to the notice to policyholders, the exclusion would apply to situations including “the use of, consumption of, ingestion of, inhalation of, absorption of, contact with, existence of, presence of, proliferation of, discharge of, dispersal of, seepage of, migration of, release of, escape of, or exposure to nanotubes or nanotechnology.”