If you have an oil spill, are you covered by insurance? You should be!

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Have you ever thought what you’d do if you had an oil spill from your furnace and how you’d pay for it?  State records show that there are 120 heating oil spills per year across Massachusetts and they can be costly! Yet only 48,000 homes out of the approximately 700,000 homes with oil heating systems are covered by insurance that would offer protection. We learned those statistics from a great NECN article on the topic that caught our attention – just the headline alone is pretty persuasive: ‘A Half-Million Dollars Out of My Pocket’: Most Heating Oil Spills Not Covered by Insurance.

Put yourself in the shoes of this homeowner with an excerpt from the article:

“Massachusetts homeowners are often stunned to learn they are responsible for thousands of dollars in cleanup costs for heating oil spills because they are not covered by standard insurance policies. An inexpensive insurance endorsement is available, but consumers have to know to ask for it.

Joe Hurley opened the door to the garage of his East Bridgewater home on Aug. 21 and was smacked in the face by the pungent odor of heating oil. A thick red liquid covered the floor and soaked possessions being stored in the garage.

A dime-sized hole had given way at the bottom of the nearby tank, unleashing more than 180 gallons of heating oil.

“I immediately evacuated everybody out of the house,” Hurley said. “I was worried for my family’s safety.”

The fire department, environmental cleanup crews and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection arrived to contain the spill and assess the scope of the damage.

To save money, Joe Hurley and a relative jackhammered the concrete in the garage and dug a hole so crews could test the ground beneath to see how far the oil spread.

However, with contaminated family belongings covered by a plastic tarp in the yard, and large containers filled with hazardous material sitting in the driveway, the cost of the cleanup is adding up fast.

Read the rest of this story, along with other costly real-world homeowner nightmares!

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Typical home heating oil systems and how they can leak.

To learn more about heating oil systems and why they leak, we turned to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. They issue a 29-page Homeowner Oil Spill Cleanup Guide that you can download. We hope you won’t ever have to use it, but it goes a long way to explaining why such problems can be outrageously expensive if you don’t have insurance coverage.

We’ve excerpted some information about why and how these leaks occur from the Guide.

Usually heating systems are located in an basement. An oil tank can also be located outside either above ground or buried under ground. Where ever the oil tank is located a delivery line will run from the oil tank to feed oil into the furnace. The oil provides the fuel to power the furnace.

All of the components of your heating system require routine maintenance. Almost any of the parts of home heating oil system can leak oil. Some common sources of leaks: 

  1. Oil tanks

Things like age, corrosion, and over-pressurization can cause tanks to fail during fuel deliveries.   

  1. Fuel delivery lines

Corrosion, mechanical, and physical failure are the most common causes of leaks. 

  1. Valves or connections

These components can fail because of age, or during fuel deliveries. 

  1. Overfills/spills

During deliveries there can be accidents that cause these spills. 

  1. Vent pipes

Clogs usually due to nests, leaves, and other debris from animals or insects can cause oil to back up out of the lines or over-pressurize the tank.

What can you do to protect yourself from the expenses of an oil spill?

Maintaining your home heating system is the best way to prevent oil leaks. Annually inspect for leaks. Look at the tank, fuel delivery lines, valves, piping and fittings. Have your oil company clean the furnace and repair or replace damaged parts. Install a safety valve or replace the fuel delivery line with one encased in a protective sleeve. Each fall inspect the vent pipe to ensure that it is free of obstructions and that an audible signal (whistle) is on the vent. Oil company employees listen for the whistle to help avoid overfills. Also, keep track of oil delivery amounts, unexpected increases may indicate a leak.

Overall, oil spills can be very costly. Be sure to check with your insurance agent regarding this coverage. Adding oil spill coverage can be fairly inexpensive and save you a huge expense down the road. To learn more, call us at 413.475.7283 or you can complete our online quote form today!

Chat with an Encharter agent about your insurance today:
413.475.7283
Complete our online quote form

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