Insured Spotlight: Plumbing Contractors

By Chelsea Albright, Assistant Vice President

A typical General Liability policy excludes losses that arise from pollution conditions, but a Contractors Pollution Liability (CPL) policy can fill this gap in coverage. A CPL policy is intended to cover Bodily Injury/Property Damage and cleanup costs that result from pollution conditions while performing contracting operations at a jobsite.

Why is pollution insurance important for plumbing contractors?

Pollution coverage is important for plumbing contractors as their operations include installation and repair of waste disposal systems and water supply lines, which can result in a pollution condition.

Pollution exposures for plumbing contractors may include:

Mold. One of the most important exposure considerations for plumbers is mold. Mold coverage has to be included as a covered pollutant because leaks or moisture accumulation after installation or repair of water systems can lead to mold growth. It can begin growing as quickly as 24 hours after water damage in a suitable environmental. Sometimes leaks are quickly found under the sink but other times they are tucked away behind walls where mold can spread.

Over the Road Pollution. Contractors typically have to bring the equipment needed to perform their work to the jobsite and very often this equipment includes a wide variety of toxic chemicals, cleaners, and sealants. If the plumbing contractor has an auto accident to or from a jobsite, depending on what is spilled, the amount of cleanup and third party losses could become costly, especially if this affects a nearby water source. Having Transportation Pollution Liability included in your CPL policy will help cover your insured for these transportation-related losses.

Non Owned Disposal Site. As with most contracting work, some amount of waste is created on a jobsite. If a plumbing contractor encounters asbestos insulated materials, lead, or another contaminant, it will have to be disposed of appropriately. Improper disposal of certain chemicals used in their operations can also cause pollution claims. Non-Owned Disposal Site coverage is generally offered as part of a Premises Pollution or Contractors Pollution Liability policy. In some cases, the NODS coverage may include coverage for the inadvertent disposal of waste to the wrong type of disposal site.

Plumbing Contractors Owned Premises. Plumbing contractors may store fuel for generator-based equipment and chemicals needed for the operations at their own location. Unintended spills may result in cleanup or third party losses. They can look into adding Sudden & Accidental coverage to their CPL policy or look into a more robust separate Premises Pollution Liability policy to address these pollution exposures.

Professional Exposures. Plumbing contractors may have to make modifications and re-route water or disposal systems on the jobsite when unknown complications arise. They perform diagnostic tests to find where problems are and unfortunately misinterpreting data could turn into a costly mistake. Missing a design flaw within a water or disposal system could also be just as detrimental. Adding Professional coverage can help to address this type of risk.

Other Operational Exposures. Plumbers frequently have to access underground lines. Excavation activities can lead to hitting unknown gas or septic lines, causing leaks. During their work, they may uncover and exacerbate an existing pollution condition like asbestos, lead based paint, contaminated soil, mold etc.

Not all environmental insurance policies are built the same. It is important to have someone specialized in pollution coverage forms guide you through your options. We are happy to discuss your client’s environmental risks and develop a program that meets their needs. For more information on plumbing contractors and the coverages they should consider, contact us.