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Insurer claims $1 million policy won't cover turnpike goo

Turnpike crews spread salt, sand and cinders on the road to help dry up the substance, which was then scraped off the highway with snow plows.

The Trucker News Services

12/27/2011

PITTSBURGH  — The insurer of a trucking company whose tanker leaked sticky black goo onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike in November says in court filings that its $1 million policy likely won't be enough to cover roughly 1,000 claims for damaged vehicles.

That's why Travelers Indemnity Co. wants to deposit $1 million into a bank account overseen by a federal judge in Pittsburgh to satisfy its policy covering Marino Transportation Services, also known as MTS Transport. The Stevensville, Md., company owned the tanker truck that leaked the asphalt flux material over about 40 miles of the eastbound toll road in western Pennsylvania on Nov. 22. The goo damaged tires and, in some cases, the engines and other parts of cars that drove through it.

MTS Transport is suing another insurer, seeking $4 million more to cover the damage, which the other insurance company is contesting.

Travelers has agreed to pay for a court-appointed master to oversee the $1 million pool, and determine which claims are paid and in what order.

Travelers contends claims filed by the owners of two vehicles who both seek more than $1,000 worth of damage show its likely the $1 million won't be sufficient to cover all of the expected claims. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that some insurance adjusters have told customers that at least two newly purchased cars, a Lexus and a Mercedes, have both been deemed total losses because of the damage they suffered.

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The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which first reported the Travelers Indemnity court filing earlier this month, said the Hartford, Conn., insurance company has already received more than 900 damage claims and expects more — including a yet-to-be determined bill from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which will be suing to recover cleanup costs.

Turnpike crews spread salt, sand and cinders on the road to help dry up the substance, which was then scraped off the highway with snow plows.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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