Warm Weather Concerns: Exposures for Pest Control Operators

By Jamie Lewis, Assistant Vice President

The warmer temperatures are setting in, which means pollen is coating vehicles, sidewalks, and our noses. Spring also brings a new round of outdoor maintenance for homeowners and business, including mitigating many unwanted species of pests that also may arrive with the budding flowers. As people begin to schedule visits from their local weed and pest control companies, it’s a great time to reach out to any clients you may have in this industry to discuss their pollution exposures.

Pest control operators are beginning their busy season, offering services such as selective or non-selective weed control, insect control, and rodent control. Companies may also offer commercial and residential mowing, right-of-way mowing, field mowing, or other landscape services. Pest control operators will usually haul their own equipment and materials to and from job sites, including pesticide, rodenticide, and other chemicals used for the purpose of eliminating, controlling, and preventing infestation of pests. The pollution exposure for these companies exists in the storage, application, and transportation of the chemicals used as insecticides and weed killers. A vehicle accident on the way to a job site may result in a spill onto the roadside and could also affect nearby soil, waterbodies, etc. Faulty equipment could cause an overspray of product to a neighboring property. Or poor planning or storage conditions could result in a large spill or leak of chemicals at the insured’s property. There are a number of devastating consequences from the misuse of equipment/chemicals, as well as unforeseen accidents that could occur even when all correct safety measures are being taken. The cost to clean up a pollution condition or any bodily injury and/or property damage associated with the pollution loss can be extremely expensive. These losses may also be excluded from a standard General Liability policy.

Clients in this industry should be aware of the various exposures and options available to close any potential pollution coverage gaps. A Contractors Pollution Liability policy can address environmental concerns arising from an insured’s covered and completed operations at a job location. Transportation Pollution Liability coverage may protect the insured in the event of a pollution loss during the loading or unloading process or an accident during transport. A separate Premises Pollution Liability policy for company headquarters can be designed to clean up any pollution events due to chemicals being stored at the insured’s facility, equipment leaks, or even pollutants coming onto the property from neighboring properties.

  • Contractors Pollution Liability is designed to protect from third party claims for damages caused by “Pollution Conditions” arising from the insured’s covered operations.
  • Transportation Pollution Liability covers insureds who need protection for pollution conditions caused by transportation. This coverage can also include loading/unloading should the insured’s cargo create a pollution condition.
  • Premises Pollution Liability is designed to cover claims arising from pollution releases at, on, or emanating from a specific scheduled location.

Even more natural based materials may give rise to a pollution condition when used improperly or in the incorrect environment. One of the most common misperceptions is that pollution events can only be caused by materials known to be hazardous or toxic. This is a mistake that can be very costly in the event of a release. Even products such as milk, produce, or other consumables―and in this case, “all natural” insecticides/herbicides―have been associated with hefty liability claims when their uncontrolled release into the environment has resulted in business interruption, fish kills, wetland destruction, or other natural resource damages. Regardless of the product used by the insured, it is important to understand the current exposures of this industry and the coverages available to protect potential pollution losses.

For more information on coverage for pest control operators, feel free to contact us.