(1) There are many insurance coverage disputes involving Washington insureds who face potential liability for their roles at polluted sites in this state. State and federal mandates exist for cleaning up the environment in order to address the adverse effects of hazardous substances on human health and safety and the environment in general. It is in the public interest to reduce the costs incurred in connection with environmental claims and to expedite the resolution of such claims. The state of Washington has a substantial public interest in the timely, efficient, and appropriate resolution of environmental claims involving the liability of insureds at polluted sites in this state. This interest is based on practices favoring good faith and fair dealing in insurance matters and on the state's broader health and safety interest in a clean environment.
(2) Insureds and insurers alike face claims complicated by factual issues concerning events that occurred in the distant past. Many sites with environmental damage involve long-term operations with multiple owners; therefore, issues related to lost policies which may provide insurance coverage in the environmental claims context provide uniquely challenging problems of both lost evidence and witnesses.
(3) Cooperation between insureds and insurers in fairly and expeditiously resolving legitimate disputes and in reducing or eliminating nonmeritorious claims is in the public interest. Facilitating cooperation in resolving legitimate lost policy disputes in environmental claims will reduce unnecessary litigation, thereby freeing more resources for environmental cleanup. Insureds and insurers are encouraged to participate in a mediation program in order to achieve a mutually acceptable, expeditious resolution of environmental claims without resort to costly and lengthy litigation.
(4) This regulation is adopted to provide minimum standards for the conduct of insureds and insurers for presenting and resolving environmental claims with the goal of facilitating the fair, principled, and efficient resolution of environmental claims without resort to unnecessary, time-consuming, and expensive litigation.