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What is Pollution Liability Insurance? 

Pollution Liability Insurance is often recommended as part of a contractor's business insurance, which is why it’s often referred to as Contractors Pollution Liability (CPL) or simply pollution liability. Pollution insurance protects individuals and businesses from liability (or alleged liability) due to pollution and/or exposure to hazardous waste materials. It covers accusations of soil, groundwater, or property contamination as well as bodily injury, illness, and even death. Smoke and airborne contaminants are also included in the coverage. The policy is usually claims-made or occurrence-based.

Why You Need Contractors Pollution Liability Coverage

The bad news is that pollution liability used to be covered under General Liability Insurance policies, which cover third-party injuries and property damage. However, in the 70s and 80s, claims from asbestos became more common. So insurance companies started excluding those claims from their general liability policies—because asbestos remediation was bankrupting them.

Unfortunately, many contractors also went bankrupt as they were forced to replace or repair homes and buildings where asbestos was used. Pollution insurance was designed to complete the existing gap in general liability policies and provide coverage where it was needed the most.

Monitored Air Pollutants

These pollutants have been watched closely throughout the years by the EPA to monitor their environmental impact:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Particulate matter
  • Ground-level ozone
  • Lead

Since the passion of the Clean Air Act, regulations have been in place to protect the environment and public health & welfare. If it's found that your business is breaking these regulations (whether it's pollution or dumping hazardous waste) you could lose your business.

Who Needs Pollution Insurance Coverage?

Any business that uses chemicals extensively or can run the risk of polluting the environment during their work need pollution insurance: 

  • General contractors: Contractors often expose pollutants or hazardous chemicals in the course of the work (i.e. asbestos).
  • Landscapers: They use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that can impact the environment. 
  • Pest control: Pest control companies use chemicals to remediate pest problems (i.e. pesticides).
  • Pool service companies: The chemicals used can contaminate the land/water if used improperly or the pool has a leak. 
  • Auto Shops: Mechanics use oil and other chemicals in the course of their work. 
  • Roofers: Roofers handle tar and other pollutants. 

While this is just a small list of small businesses that could potentially need coverage, think about the nature of your business. Do you use hazardous chemicals? Do you remediate asbestos from homes? Can pollution or hazardous chemicals be exposed during your work? If the answer is yes, consider getting the proper insurance coverage to protect your business.

What Does Pollution Liability Insurance Cover?

A pollution liability policy provides coverage for the contractor/business, the environment, your suppliers, and your customers. 

  • Clean-up: Most pollution policies cover a certain amount of the cost to clean up pollutants and hazardous waste contamination. Be sure to find out how much you’re responsible for when choosing a policy.
  • Legal Defense: Pollution insurance policy companies will provide a legal defense with a specialization in the field. Your policy will cover the cost of your legal defense and settlements. 
  • Operations: You will want to make sure you have coverage for oversights or accidents during business. You can choose catastrophic or non-catastrophic coverage.
  • Property transfer: This endorsement covers previously polluted or contaminated properties that you have purchased, including clean-up.

The policy also provides coverage for medical costs due to bodily injury, property damage costs, etc.

Coverage Policies to Consider

Talk with an experienced agent about which policy fits your business best:

  • Premises Pollution Liability: Premises liability addresses 1st party losses due to pollution i.e. the property you own or rent. 
  • Environmental liability: This covers the cost of legal defense and settlements that arise from claims of third-party bodily injury, property damage, or other concerns.
  • Contractor Pollution Liability: This policy covers property damage, third-party bodily injury, and remediation costs due to pollution that may have been caused during the contractor’s work. 
  • Errors and Omissions Insurance: If you provide faulty information during a project (i.e. you say there isn’t soil contamination when there is) and it’s later found out, you can be held liable for damages, remediation, etc.

Insurance Endorsements to Consider

You may need to add additional coverage if you use NODS, work with NOHS, are in areas prone to water damage, or are a welder:

  • Microbial Matter: Most contractors should consider an endorsement to cover mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria. Any of these particulates that grow due to faulty work can leave the contractor completely liable. 
  • Non-owned Disposal Sites (NODS): Coverage can extend to sites where you dispose of hazardous materials or substances. 
  • Naturally Occurring Hazardous Substances (NOHS): This endorsement can extend coverage to accidental exposure of naturally occurring substances such as mercury, asbestos, silica, pyrite, arsenic, and radon.
  • Welding Fumes (Manganism): Welders may want to consider coverage for this illness caused by the dangerous fumes from Manganese. It can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system. 

What is Excluded from Insurance Coverage?

Here are some common exclusions from a pollution insurance policy:

  • Intentional Acts: Anything done intentionally is excluded from pollution liability coverage. 
  • Asbestos: Asbestos pollution can often be excluded. If your business deals exclusively with asbestos remediation, make sure it’s added as a policy endorsement. 
  • Contractual Liability: If the insured has agreed to contractual liability for certain events, that would be excluded. 
  • Failure to Maintain Insurance: If a contractor is required to retain a certain amount of liability insurance and fails to do so, fines and penalties are not covered

You’ll need separate insurance coverage for: 

  • Employers Practices Liability Insurance: This protects the business owner from claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, etc. 
  • Product Liability Insurance: Product liability protects your business from claims related to the manufacture, sale, or use of goods that cause bodily injury or property damage.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance: Workers' compensation covers medical costs and lost wages for your employees if they become injured or ill on the job. 

How Much Does Pollution Liability Insurance Cost?

The cost of pollution insurance varies due to numerous different variables that have to be taken into account. Premises liability policies consider

  • The construction and age of the building
  • How the building is/was occupied
  • How existing issues have been addressed

Contractors pollution liability insurance companies look at:

  • The type of business you run/work being performed
  • History of previous environmental claims
  • How much business you do/yearly profit
  • Pollutants used during business
  • Disposal method(s) of hazardous wastes

These policies can be expensive, starting from $5,000 annually for $1 million coverage.

Limits of Pollution Liability Insurance

A common policy typically has higher limits than a general liability policy. For example, typical coverage is $2 million per occurrence/$4 million aggregate. But policies can be purchased for anywhere from $1 million to $1 billion per occurrence.

Get a Free Pollution Liability Insurance Quote

Contractors and small-to-medium-sized business owners need to know what coverage is needed to protect their small business. That's where CommercialInsurance.Net comes in—we will come alongside you and help you determine the insurance coverage you need at a cost you can afford. Complete the form at the top of the page or give us a call at 1-877-907-5267 and one of our experienced agents will gladly assist you.

 

Related Articles: Welding Insurance, Insurance for General Contractors, Workers Compensation Insurance

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