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HARTFORD, Conn. -- Hundreds of Connecticut independent gasoline stations and convenience stores could be forced to go out of business this Fall due to insurance issues, the Greenwich Time reported.
There are multiple sources of the problem. One is that Constitution State officials recently revised procedures used to clean up leaks around underground storage tanks (USTs), dealers have said.
Another problem is that retailers may find it very difficult to purchase insurance due to those policy changes. Insurance rates are now expected rise, the newspaper reported, forcing Connecticut retailers to raise their prices or go out of business after Oct. 1. C-store and gas station owners are required in the state to carry insurance on the underground tanks.
According to the news outlet, the insurance problem was exacerbated when Zurich American Insurance, a major insurer for the tanks, exited the business last week.
"This is what we've been dreading," Larry Ancker, owner of the West Rocks Shell station in Norwalk, told the news source. "We're all being screwed by the legislature the DEEP (Department of Environmental Protection) because they cannot control their spending."
However, DEEP spokesperson Dennis Schain told the Greenwich Time that Zurich's exit from tank insurance should not concern retailers.
"There is a competitive and robust market for UST coverage with several active players," he told the newspaper. "We have talked to several companies who provide this type of coverage and we are confident that station owners in Connecticut will be able to secure it."
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, (R-Norwalk), opposed the legislation during a special session on June 12, foreseeing possible danger.
"I appreciate the DEEP commissioner's optimism, but many independent gas stations can't fund remediation by themselves," he told the news outlet. "If the commissioner misses his hunch and other insurers don't come in, we're going to lose between 250 and 400 gas stations."