Spotlight: Interior Demolition Contractors

Interior Demolition Contractors share the following common exposure vectors:

Vector 1: Demolition leads to hazardous indoor air quality
One of the biggest environmental concerns faced by Interior demolition professionals is the allegation that their work has led to an unhealthy indoor environment. This can manifest itself in many ways, including dusts, odors, ill employees, or staining and damage to walls and fixtures. When these allegations lead to Bodily Injury, Property Damage or Business Interruption, the claims can become sizeable. If the basis of the claims is the toxic nature of the contaminant, pollution exclusions are often cited.

Vector 2: Demolished materials may contain potentially harmful waste
Internal demolition of buildings generates scrapped and waste materials. This material may contain lead based paints or asbestos insulation or asbestos containing materials such as floor or ceiling tile. Additionally, discarded fuel oil tanks can contain significant amounts of fuel oil. Releases of any of these substances can occur during onsite storage prior to disposal, or at the ultimate disposal site.

Vector 3: Job site pollution caused by the contractor exacerbating existing conditions
Many claims faced by Interior Demolition contractors stem from disturbing asbestos, lead, or existing mold within the structure while work is being performed. This can take the form of asbestos wrap on piping, lead paint on windows and doors, or mold growth that existed prior to the work. Making these conditions worse by spreading the contamination can lead to significant liability on the part of the contractor.

Vector 4: Job site pollution caused by contaminants the contractor brought to the site
Many Interior Demolition contractors use equipment powered by generators, requiring fueling. They also regularly use solvents, solders and other potentially toxic substances. The release of these, or their improper disposal, can lead to pollution claims.

Vector 5: The operations of subcontractors for which the contractor is responsible
When Interior Demolition contractors hire subcontractors to do prep work such as mechanical/HVAC, electrical or plumbing disconnects, they run the risk of being held responsible for pollution conditions stemming from this work. Obviously the Interior Demolition contractor should require them to carry their own insurance, and name the contractor as an additional inured. What often happens, however, is the sub will not carry adequate, if any environmental coverage. If they cause a pollution condition, and their coverage is inadequate, the Interior Demolition contractor may be in a position of having to defend themselves against claims relating to work for which they were responsible due to their hiring of the sub.

Vector 6: Over the road pollution
Most Interior Demolition contractors haul away the demolished materials, some of which could contain pollutants and other hazardous materials. An accident on the highway may lead to expense for clean up and third party losses. Coverage available through the auto policy may be quite limited.

Vector 7: Contractors owned premises exposures
Many Interior Demolition contractors have significant property used to store and maintain their equipment, vehicles and offices. These facilities can range from simple warehouse space, bulk fuel storage to small private landfills. Any property where equipment is stored runs the risk of being contaminated from spills. Stored demolished materials can have problems with rain runoff as well as long term exposure. For many contractors, this property represents a significant equity position. Losses from this type of exposure can include cost of cleanup, diminution of property value, and third party bodily injury.

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