DEFINITION of ‘Continuous Injury Trigger’
An insurance coverage theory in which any policy that is in effect while a claimant is exposed to something that causes injury or damage, while the actual injury or damage occurs, or while the injury or damage is manifested is said to provide coverage. Continuous-injury triggers are used in occurrence-based policies. Continuous-injury triggers are not recognized in all states and jurisdictions.
INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS’Continuous Injury Trigger’
Courts use trigger theories to determine when a policy’s coverage takes effect. This legal theory is used in cases in which a damage or loss builds up over a long period of time, since it is often difficult to determine the exact date that an injury or damage occurred on. Continuous-injury triggers are most commonly associated with liability insurance coverage.
Coverage theory is generally divided into four groups. The first grouping has the coverage triggered when an individual is exposed to the condition that ultimately leads to injury or damage. The second grouping has the coverage triggered when the injury or damage is discovered. The third grouping has the coverage triggered when the injury or damage is said to have actually taken place. The fourth grouping – the continuous trigger – combines the triggers from the previous three groups.
For example, a food manufacturer uses a preservative to increase the shelf life of one of its products. This preservative is later found to cause health problems for consumers who ate the product, though it takes years for the illness to develop. During the period of time that the manufacturer was using the preservative, it had purchased several different liability policies. Under a continuous-injury trigger, each of these policies is said to provide coverage, since the injury occurred over a period of time in which multiple coverages overlapped.
Insurance companies that write policies purchased after damage or injury is discovered may try to deny coverage, stating that the trigger ends once the discovery occurs. This is referred to as the last pull of the trigger.