Pollution Liability Insurance: Expect the Unexpected

Last Updated:
August 29, 2019
Ole Jensen
Time to Read:

At first glance, your company may not appear to be at risk for the pollution liability exposures facing the heavy manufacturing. sector. However, pollution liability coverages also address common exposures that you might face.

A steady increasing focus on the environment paired with an expanding list of known pollution sources have led to many recent costly law suits that companies never saw coming.

Due to the unknown nature of many environmental conditions, a pollution claim can arise at any time, for nearly any type of company, and with devastating cost.

Luckily, pollution insurance is available, and most policies are customizable to fit a company’s unique set of risks and exposures.

New forms of pollution and contamination are frequently being discovered, often with the result of a large lawsuit due to third-party bodily injury or property damage.

Many risk managers feel more comfortable paying a fixed amount in premium than gambling with the uncertain nature of environmental and pollution factors.

There are countless possible pollutants, environmental conditions, and contaminants in any building or property. Due to the sweeping pollution exclusion on standard commercial general liability (CGL) policies, many claims are classified as pollution-related and not covered.

The following are just a sample of possible pollution exposures that may affect your company:

  • Defective drywall containing unsafe levels of sulphur
  • Toxic mould, fungus, or other bacterial contamination
  • Silt runoff from construction sites into public water sources
  • Certain green construction techniques that can cause unforeseen pollutants
  • Nanotechnology
  • Asbestos
  • Lead-based paint
  • Any contaminants or chemicals that could be released into the air or public water supply
  • Aboveground or underground storage tanks
  • Improper waste disposal
  • Building or car exhaust fumes
  • Malfunctioning of HVAC or ventilation equipment
  • Malfunctioning, crumbling, or leaking of older buildings and pipes, causing contamination.

Are You Adequately Protected?

Does your business have all the insurance protection it needs - or does it even have all the coverage you assume is in place? Here are some examples of pollution claims:

  • Carbon monoxide escapes from a restaurant’s heating, ventilating, or air conditioning system causing illness and dizziness among patrons
  • A fuel line on a contractor’s air compressor suddenly ruptures, discharging fluid, which scars a recently resurfaced parking lot
  • A cleaning compound is inadvertently deposited down the drain of a day care centre, causing fumes, which makes some children ill
  • A private country club dumps herbicides in an abandoned well, causing groundwater contamination
  • An off-site service person ruptures a chemical hose, resulting in extensive premise damage.

All of these incidents occurred and none were determined to be covered under the applicable commercial general liability policy.

By gaining a better understanding of pollution liability and the extent of your policy exclusions, you could avoid unexpected financial loss.

Contact us at 613-236-9101 or email me at ojensen@scrivens.ca to review your pollution liability exposures and formulate innovative solutions.