has identified an opportunity to expand the marketplace, to improve the quality of the work performed with geosynthetic materials and to reduce liability. As many of you may have already heard, we are working to develop a program for the insurance industry through risk management. The Geosynthetics Risk Management and Loss Control Program (GRMLCP) will require engineers, designers, owners and contractors to improve the quality of the geosynthetic component in their projects.

The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) hosts an annual conference (no trade-show or exhibit hall) in which was asked to sponsor one of six two day Technology Showcases November 9-10, 2004. During the conference we made several presentations and held discussions regarding the significant financial benefits of good practice as it relates to geosynthetics. We illustrated, through case studies, the millions of dollars lost annually due to poor practice and the associated measures which could be taken to eliminate most of these failures. We ned to prove to Insurance Underwriters that they can save money by insisting on expert engineering design review, proper materials selection/testing, and the use of qualified installation companies.

I cannot express how strongly I believe that this opportunity is extraordinarily valuable to our industry. We have the ability in this forum to develop a symbiotic relationship with an industry that has an enormous amount of control over the design and construction of projects using geosynthetic materials and services. The Insurance Industry has the power to help drive good practice, certification, and our success. It is our goal to:

  • illustrate to insurance companies the cost associated with geosynthetics failure to Insurers
  • provide evidence that most failures are preventable and the millions of dollars lost in failure claims can be saved
  • identify the benefits of a program for risk managers to assess risk and financially reward good practice
  • get a commitment from the five big insurance companies to back the development of the GRMLCP

All sectors of our industry will benefit:

Manufacturers will be able to sell the best product for the application. Manufacturer’s products will more likely be selected and installed correctly. Selection of superior materials; certification and performance will earn construction companies and owners reduced insurance rates.

Ultimately what this will mean to installers is significant. What we propose to do is help insurance companies assess and diminish risk through good practice. One very significant element of Geosynthetic Risk Management will be the requirement of qualified installers on every job. Insurance companies will either financially reward and/or mandate the use of recognized professional installers. This will:

  • allow professional installers to compete against one another, eliminating or reducing competition against inexperienced “cheap” labor
  • increase the recognition and value for installation certification programs (Insurance companies will not be interested in reading resumes or researching sub-contractors so they will require a streamlined method of identifying experienced/qualified companies and people. Certification is the most direct and effective means of identifying qualifications.)
  • develop the need for additional certification programs within the geosynthetics community
  • possibly incite the insurance companies to sponsor the development of other certification programs

Peer-reviewed design by geosynthetic experts will result in materials selection and buildable design. Testing of materials, appropriate design methodology, and effective CQA plans will be employed to ensure success for the installers and the manufacturers, and ultimately, the owners and insurance companies.

Requisite testing will be recommended by the “geo-expert” (engineers who should develop addional work for the laboratories). Use of laboratories with accreditation and certification will also be recognized within the geosynthetics risk management program.

Associations, Certification Programs, Research
As the need for information develops, each of these groups will be called upon to aid in the development of the statistics – remedies and certifications which will make this program possible. The Geosynthetics Risk Management Program will create value to the members/participants and expand the need for recognition through certification and participation in these groups. It is even possible that the insurance companies will sponsor the development of such programs. Consider that in one instance, a significant installation related failure at a golf course cost one insurance company 1.2 million dollars – 1.2 million dollars can buy a lot of preventative medicine!

I hope that we have piqued your interest in this project – better yet – that we have captured your attention. The GRMLCP will certainly not solve all of the problems in the geosynthetic-universe, however, it very well may be a beginning. We will be working toward development of Risk Management as it relates to materials, testing, design and installation. In order to make this a valuable program we will need the geosynthetics community contributing to the effort. Representatives from each of the other segments of the industry (engineers and laboratories, as well as geogrid, geotextile, geosynthetic clay liners and geomembrane manufacturers) have already come forth with their support. is pleased to announce that engineer John Paulson and geosynthetica Underwriters Cooley, Colbond, Naue Fasertechnik, TRI, Coletanche, Agru, and I-CORP INTERNATIONAL have all committed to supporting the program. If you have any questions, or would like to be a part of the Geosynthetics Risk Management and Loss Control Program, please contact Elizabeth Peggs at