Contractors Pollution Liability (CPL) policies are designed to respond to claims against contractors for pollution events related to their contracting operations. These activities typically consist of the day to day, hands-on processes a contractor conducts in order to complete a project. This is in contrast to professional services, which are typically thought of as the management, design, or oversight of contracting operations, not the contracting operations themselves. The general definition of professional services implies that those services are provided by individuals that have a particular education, degree, or professional expertise in order to provide the services. It is becoming more common for the line between these two distinct services to blur, and for contractors to take on more professional responsibility than intended.
There are many examples where general contracting situations generate a professional liability claim. A few areas of particular note include:
Job site modification of plans. As noted above, many contractors tweak plans during the actual work. While these may seem like benefits to the client, if any of these design changes lead to a claim, it can be construed as professional services.
Supervision of subcontractors. While most contractors select and supervise their subs, issues related to the adequacy of their performance of either role can come in as professional service claims.
Knowledge of local building ordinances and requirements. Many contractors are responsible for adequately securing and protecting the job site and its impact on neighboring properties. Silt ordinances have changed dramatically in recent years, and failure of a contractor to control run off from their site can be deemed a professional loss.