Understanding Your Risks for a Pollution Claim

Pollution is a subject that is in the news on a regular basis. Thanks to regular reporting, we are aware of major pollutants caused by big industry. These situations can cause wide-spread, and in some situations, long lasting adverse effects to the air we breathe, the land we inhabit and the water supply on which we depend.

Not far from my home in Colorado Springs is a section of town with an unusual homeowner’s covenant. It bans vegetable gardening due to high levels of toxins in the soil from an old gold mine! In areas of the country that use heating oil for their energy source, it is not unusual for old oil storage tanks, both buried and above ground, to leak oil into the surrounding soil.

Airborne pollutants most often come from manufacturing facilities or combustion like truck and automobile engines. Asbestos and crystalline silica dust, byproducts of the building trades, are known to cause serious respiratory ailments.

Years of carelessness have polluted our water supplies with plastics, sewage and other man-made products. Still, an accident such as a milk tanker truck overturning and spilling its contents into a stream is a pollutant as well.

If pollution is suspected to have occurred due to your operations, or negligence, one or more state or federal environmental agencies may be involved in the clean-up. Depending on the extent of the damage to air, soil or water, remediation costs for pollution events can cost thousands, even millions of dollars. Regrettably, pollution is usually NOT covered under Commercial Property or General Liability policies. Some homeowner policies do provide coverage for leaking heating oil tanks, but the coverage is not automatic.

While the best method would be to put practices into place to avoid situations that may cause a loss, there are many factors out of your immediate control. One option for additional protection is a broad pollution policy, which could cover clean-up costs and liability.

If you would like to discuss pollution liability for your organization or business operation, you can reach Jon in our Colorado Springs office at 719-488-3206 or by email at Jon@MerriamInsurance.com.

Jon Barron, AAI
Latest posts by Jon Barron, AAI (see all)