Important Changes in Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage
by Bennett Environmental Associates
For some time, environmental consultants, and Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs) in particular, have recognized a divergence in what homeowners believe is covered under their homeowner’s insurance policy and what the insurer considers a covered loss under “Pollutants”. In many homeowner’s policies, pollution coverages are excluded or narrowly covered and limited. Where an average fuel oil cleanup can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and a cleanup with groundwater impact considerably more, this misconception often results in catastrophic personal financial loss for the homeowner and can negatively stigmatize what is considered their most important investment, their home.
In order to provide relief to homeowners, legislation was developed by environmental attorneys, the LSP Association and the MA Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP), which has since been adopted. All homeowner’s insurers doing business in MA must now offer cleanup coverage to these homeowners upon inquiry. This coverage requires fuel line protection and/or the use of an oil safety valve (OSV) [Refer to BEA’s Company Newsletter at www.bennett-ea.com for additional information].
Most recently, homeowners have realized a backlash in the way homeowner’s policies are written, wherein if pollution coverage is not elected all pollution coverages will be excluded from the standard homeowner’s policy. Personal experience has shown that this optional $100,000/$300,000 coverage can be purchased at a cost of less than $100 per year.
While are all sensitive to cost today, we strongly advise homeowners to contact their insurance agents regarding these optional coverages so that they are able to make an informed decision and avoid any catastrophic financial loss due to any potential home heating oil release in the future.