What Will Insurance Companies Ask About An Environmental Spill?

john-rourke-5iZWUKSh0Rc-unsplashThe business of storing, handling, and disposing of hazardous materials grows more complex every year. Data from the PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) shows that over 21,244 hazardous materials incidents occurred in 2020 alone with early projections showing those numbers on the rise for 2021 in a drastic way.


The Action Environmental Group at Shield Engineering has been providing comprehensive spill response management services to insurance companies, manufacturers, industries, and transporters, among others, for decades.  We’re often the first call a responsible party makes when they need to mitigate a spill quickly and cost effectively.  Many insurance providers also connect with our team directly when their “Insureds” have a spill incident.

If you suffer a spill, which questions should you expect your insurance company to ask?  Here’s what to be prepared for.

 Which materials/chemicals are involved in the spill, and how much?

The answer to this question dictates how cleanup will proceed.  It is imperative to keep accurate records regarding all movement, storage, and use of potentially hazardous materials to make the accident inventory process more efficient.

Where and when did the spill occur?

Where the spill occurred will also have a significant impact on the resources needed for cleanup, and on regulatory compliance.  If the spill occurred in a drainage ditch on the side of a highway while the material was being transported, cleanup is a far more extensive process than if the spill had happened on the floor of a warehouse.  Likewise, the longer it has been since a spill occurred, the more significant cleanup should be expected.   When the spill occurred may also have a bearing on if the spill will be covered by the current insurance policy, a previous insurance policy or not at all. 

Which regulatory bodies should be/have been contacted?

All environmental spills have the potential to involve local, state, and even federal regulatory agencies.  It is possible that the EPA or other oversight organizations may need to be involved in the cleanup process, particularly if third parties were affected.  The Action Environmental Group coordinates all relevant organizations and informs the necessary oversight agencies when an event occurs, as well as update them throughout the mitigation process.

How is the spill being remedied?

The Action Environmental Group works with a network of over a thousand experienced, trusted spill remediation contractors nationwide. Each spill is different: While some require extensive manpower and specialized machinery, others might only necessitate the assistance of one or two trained individuals. Knowing who to trust spill cleanup responsibilities to and what their credentials are is half the battle.

What caused the spill?

Insurance companies want to know the cause and origin of spill events to help determine if they are covered by the current or previous insurance policies, or if they are not covered at all. The Action Environmental Group and Shield Engineering are well versed at determining the causes and origins of spill events.  We can also help to create a comprehensive plan for insured parties to minimize future spill events.

The Action Environmental Group and the team at Shield Engineering are ready for your call. Environmental spills often happen when you are least prepared for them but knowing what to expect can make the process easier and less stressful.

Reach out to Shield Engineering and the Action Environmental Group (24/7)  to learn more.

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