SOURCE: Alliant Insurance Services

Alliant Insurance Services

August 25, 2010 15:23 ET

Alliant Insurance Services Launches Policy to Protect California Farmers and Ranchers Against Environmental Charges

Policy Provides $250,000 in Legal Defense Coverage to Fight Allegations Levied by Regulatory Agencies

NEWPORT BEACH, CA--(Marketwire - August 25, 2010) -  California farmers and ranchers now have the legal defense capability to fight alleged violations of environmental regulations they believe are unfounded.

Alliant Insurance Services (www.alliantinsurance.com), the nation's largest specialty insurance brokerage firm, has launched The Agricultural Regulatory Services (TARS), a legal defense insurance policy that offers agricultural business owners in California up to $250,000 in coverage to pay for a legal defense against charges they violated environmental regulations.

According to the company, before the launch of TARS it was often too costly for smaller farming and ranching operations, especially family-owned businesses, to fight allegations levied by a variety of federal, state, and local environmental agencies. Therefore, many farmers and ranchers settled with these regulatory agencies, agreeing to pay fines and penalties and make ordered restorations to affected land rather than defend themselves in court.

TARS enables policyholders to aggressively defend themselves against these allegations instead of simply giving in to regulatory agency demands, the company said. Policyholders are defended by a statewide panel of experienced agricultural attorneys retained through the pooled premiums of all participating policyholders.

The TARS legal team is supported by experienced agricultural and environmental engineers who evaluate each case and assist in building a defense that is "fair, firm and factual." If a policyholder is served suit papers by an environmental regulatory agency, claim paperwork is submitted to TARS, which handles the case from there.

The driving force behind creation of the policy is California rancher Reverge Anselmo, who brought the idea to Alliant. The owner of Seven Hills Land & Cattle Company in Shingletown, CA, Anselmo chose to defend himself against environmental allegations filed in 2007 by a number of agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the California Water Quality Control Board.

The allegations against Anselmo stemmed from routine pasture maintenance near a creek on his land. While he was successful in his defense and the formal charges were dropped, the litigation process took 11 months to resolve, cost him some $65,000 in attorney fees, and required him to personally spend "six hours a day" building his defense.

"It was a maddening, very expensive experience that made me realize how vulnerable agricultural businesses are to being intimidated by regulatory agencies," Anselmo said. "I realized a legal defense insurance policy was needed to protect these businesses, and I connected with Alliant, which has done a tremendous job creating a policy that offers the needed legal defense capabilities at an affordable cost."

Information about TARS is available at www.protectedbytars.com. Although the TARS policy is currently limited to agricultural businesses in California, there are plans to expand it to other states in the future.

About Alliant Insurance Services

Headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif., Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. is one of the largest insurance brokerage firms in the United States and has a history dating back to 1925. Alliant provides property and casualty, workers' compensation, employee benefits, surety, and financial products and services to some 20,000 specialized clients nationwide, including public entities, tribal nations, healthcare, energy, law firms, real estate, construction, and other industry groups. More information is available on the company's web site at: www.alliantinsurance.com.

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