For Van Traa ,most property insurance claims concern company real estate. It often concerns fire related problems, but also, more often, environmental damage. This environmental damage is, in most cases, related to the release of asbestos from buildings and roofs.

Van Traa’s lawyers mostly represent insurance companies.

Fire Insurance
We advise and litigate on behalf of insurers on all aspects that occur in the event of a fire in company real estate. This often concerns questions regarding the coverage of the insurance policy. Furthermore, often the question arises whether or not the insured party deliberately caused the fire, so-called arson, and the question whether or not the insurance company is required to pay the damages.

In such cases, the amount payable is also the subject of advice and litigation. Consideration is given to direct damages to the building as a consequence of the fire, but also to environmental damage due to, for example, the release of asbestos or other hazardous substances. Furthermore, Van Traa’s lawyers also advise and litigate on the possibilities of any recourse claims. Insurance companies are assisted in reclaiming the damages they paid from possibly liable third parties and their insurers on the basis of the Binding Decision on Recourse (Bindend Besluit Regres) Fire Insurance (Right of Recourse) Sectoral Regulations.

This branch mostly works with standard insurance policy conditions, usually the Standard Dutch Exchange Conditions for Fire Insurance (Nederlandse Beurs Brand Polisvoorwaarden). These are applied to insurances that are concluded at the insurance exchange through insurance brokers. Furthermore, Van Traa also assists insurers in matters of so-called provincial insurances. These are the insurance agreements that are not concluded through the insurance exchange. Because these types of insurance agreements often involve intermediaries and insurance brokers, elaborate knowledge about the way these insurance agreements are established and what the responsibilities are of all involved parties is required. Van Traa frequently provides advice in this respect.

Environmental Damage Insurance
Under an environmental damage insurance policy, insurers are generally required to cover damages as a consequence of soil, air or water pollution arising from a covered event (for instance a storm or a fire). An important substance that gives rise to such pollution in the recent years is asbestos. Company real estate, agricultural real estate in particular, often contains cement-asbestos roofs. This mostly concerns older roofs, which have been weather-beaten or otherwise eroded. As a consequence, the original cohesive asbestos is released and may spread. In recent years it has been shown that heavy rains and hail can also damage roofs so that asbestos is released.

Van Traa frequently advises and litigates on problems related to the dangers of asbestos and the question whether or not the insurance company is required to provide cover under the policy. In that event, particularly in asbestos cases, the question is which particular damage should be covered. Because of the fact that it is illegal to process asbestos, the question regularly arises as to whether, in the event of a limited damage, an entire roof needs to be decontaminated or whether compensation for partial damage may suffice.

Furthermore, it is important to point out that the government plans to prohibit the ownership of asbestos roofs as per 1 January 2024. As this date approaches, it is expected that advice and litigation regarding the possible obligation of replacement of asbestos roofs will increase.

This is not only relevant for environmental damage insurances, but also for liability insurances, where the question regularly arises whether or not an eroded asbestos roof should be decontaminated in order to prevent damage to health and, if so, whether the entrepreneur or the insurer should bear these costs.

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