Escape of oil
An escape of oil can have a devastating impact not only on you and your family’s health from the toxic fumes but also on your property and perhaps most worryingly into local watercourses, vegetation and neighbouring properties.
The impact and damage that an escape of oil can have cannot be understated and certainly not ignored. It is imperative that once you become aware of an issue or even a smell of oil that you act immediately.
If left untreated, oil, diesel or kerosene can have long term effects on concrete foundations, floors or walls of a property. Fumes can penetrate carpets and soft furnishings, which may not be possible to salvage. Depending on the extent of the oil leak (number of litres) the vapours from the oil in the ground can cause noxious smells. It can affect your eyes and lungs and be harmful to human health even in low levels of exposure especially in the young or elderly.
The good news is that an escape of oil is standard cover on the vast majority of property insurance policies sold across the country.
Investigations and testing will be required by specially trained oil remediation contractors who will take samples of earth from the impacted area to ascertain the level of contamination along with gauging how far the oil plume has travelled.
It is at this juncture that a detailed submission will need to be issued to the insurance company and the appointed Loss Adjusters involved outlining the remediation that will be required along with the reinstatement / replacement of flooring, doors, kitchens, soft furnishings etc that will often have to be removed to facilitate the works.
The level of remediation required will obviously depend on the amount of oil that has escaped and where it has escaped from and to whether it is into the foundations of the property, into a garden or often both combined.
Often the quickest and easiest way of remediation is simply a ‘dig and dump’ which just as it sounds involves digging and removing the oil contaminated soil and disposing of the hazardous waste as per EPA guidelines. It is imperative that soil samples are continuously taken and sent to laboratories until no further trace of oil is found and at which stage a certificate will be issued by the contractor confirming same.
Another course of action is to use in situ bioremediation which involves the injection of biological agents into the impacted soil which breaks down the oil through biodegradation into harmless fatty acids and carbon dioxide. If the level of contamination is relatively low this is often the most economical and offers the least disruption but it is not always possible.
As mentioned above, the vast majority of domestic and commercial property policies will cover as standard an escape of oil so more often than not a simple call into your insurance company to notify them of the claim will get the ball rolling.
If an escape of oil causes damage to a neighbouring property the liability section of the policy will more often than not also cover the damage caused by the leak that originated from your property.
Help is at hand
Balcombes have over 40 years’ experience dealing with oil claims on behalf of property and business owners. We compile all of the required written reports and full costings in a statement of claim in conjunction with a number of Oil Remediation Specialists that we work alongside.
Agreement should be sought with the loss adjuster on the actions to be taken before works proceed. Sometimes carpets, curtains and soft furnishings may have to be replaced if they are deemed to have absorbed noxious odours. If the property is deemed uninhabitable, we will negotiate cover for alternative accommodation for the period necessary to carry out the works should it be covered under the policy.
We offer professional advice to you and there is no obligation following a free initial consultation to assess your loss or damage. ‘Contact us’ and one of our experienced Property Loss Assessors will discuss the issues with you to see how we can help you with your claim.