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Action Alert: Urge Your State Senator to Support LSPA’s Home Heating Oil Insurance Bill

Earlier this month the LSPA's bill S. 676, which would mandate that insurance companies provide first- and third-party coverage for home heating oil releases, was favorably reported out of the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Financial Services. This was great news. The bill is next being considered by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Senator Michael Rodrigues.   
 
It would be a significant achievement if the bill is reported favorably by this committee. The LSPA is asking you to please consider writing to your state senator to urge their support of the bill. The more requests from constituents, the more visibility our bill gets. Regardless of whether or not your state senator is a member the Senate Committee on Ways and Means NOW is the time to get their attention. 
 
Check here to find your state senator. 
 
Attached here is a sample email you can send. All senators’ email addresses are on their home page. No need to send paper mail.
 
If you have experience with a home heating oil release, especially one in which the homeowner did not have insurance or had a tough time getting coverage, please feel free to share this in your letter. Real life examples are most compelling, especially if your client’s property is in the district of one of these senators.  
 
For more information about the bill, please read the recent Boston Globe editorial supporting the legislation, as well as the LSPA’s letter (written before the bill was passed by the Joint Committee on Financial Services)and fact sheet. In addition, our bill has benefitted from a supporting letter from six state environmental organizations. We encourage you to mention in your letter if you are a member of any of these organizations. 
 
Please contact our Executive Director Wendy Rundle at [email protected] if you have any questions. 
 
Thank you for your support; we will keep LSPA members apprised.
 
 
LSPA Legislative Committee Co-Chairs
Spence Smith, LSP, Jacobs
Tim Clinton, LSP, Fuss & O’Neill


Boston Globe Endorses LSPA's Legislation

After a flurry of media attention kicked off by this article, the Boston Globe published an editorial on February 26, 2022 in support of the LSPA's bill Senate #676, An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases.  Many thanks to the Globe for pointing out that the bill "would secure the protection Massachusetts homeowners deserve — requiring insurers to provide oil leak coverage."  And the editorial closed with a message for legislators:  "Catastrophic expenses can be, well, catastrophic. And if lawmakers can easily prevent them, they should."  The bill is now being considered by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

More News Stories about Local Family Dealing with Fuel Oil Spill

Here are two more news stories about the Wareham family dealing with a fuel oil spill: 

Any homeowner in Massachusetts who has faced this situation, without insurance coverage, knows how challenging it is. Hopefully this media coverage is raising awareness and more homeowners will buy fuel oil insurance riders. We hope that state legislators will also be motivated to pass Senate Bill No. 676, An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases, which would require that all Massachusetts homeowner insurance policies provide coverage for the cleanup of accidental releases of home heating oil. Please contact your state senator and representative to ask for their support.  

LSPA Testimony on S. 676 Home Heating Oil Insurance

Led by Susan Crane (Attorney) and Kevin Beaulieu (LSP), the LSPA assembled a team to testify before the MA Legislature’s Joint Committee on Financial Services on October 20, 2021, in support of Senate Bill 676, An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases.  Three homeowners recently impacted by spills, and shocked to learn the releases were not covered by their homeowners insurance, shared their unfortunate experiences.  An insurance industry spokesperson was the only person to testify against the bill. 

The LSPA was pleased that legislators had many follow-up questions that (we thought) showed their interest in pushing insurance companies to take a more active interest in addressing this issue.

To view the relevant portion of the hearing, click here – LSPA testimony begins at 16:25 and runs until 41.20. The testimony of the MA Insurance Federation representative on S. 676 runs from 42:25 to 45:40.  Q&A from legislators runs from 52:10 to 58:30.

The LSPA will continue to monitor progress on the bill, and pursue options for more visibility on the issue.


Legislative Update: LSPA’s Home Heating Oil Insurance Bill

NBC Boston ran this story on September 22, 2021 to again highlight the devastating and costly impacts of residential heating oil spills, especially for those without insurance coverage.  The LSPA continues to work with Senator Anne M. Gobi to pass S. 676, our bill that would require insurance companies to provide coverage for the approximately 700,000 homeowners who do not have it.  For two sessions, this bill has received a favorable report from the legislature's Joint Committee on Financial Services.  

For more information about the LSPA's bill, please read our fact sheet and this additional information which includes TV news coverage.

Are You Currently Working on a Home Heating Oil Release?

Do you have a client with a residential heating oil spill? As upsetting and difficult as that can be under "normal" circumstances, it has surely been more complicated under the current restrictions.

The LSPA's bill S. 594, which would require insurance companies to provide first- and third-party coverage for home heating oil releases, has successfully moved out of the legislature's Joint Committee on Financial Services and is now with the Senate Ways & Means Committee. The LSPA is preparing to update key legislators on the need for this insurance; it is our understanding that the state senate is hoping to meet again next month.

Please contact our Executive Director Wendy Rundle at [email protected] if you or your client is interested in sharing information with the LSPA about a recent residential heating oil release. Our ability to provide actual examples, even anonymously, has proven to be most persuasive with legislators.


Home Heating Oil Insurance Bill Receives Favorable Report from Legislature

In early February 2020, the LSPA-sponsored Senate Bill 594 received a favorable report from the MA Legislature's Joint Committee on Financial Services. The bill was sent to the Senate Clerk shortly thereafter where it is likely to be referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Many thanks to Committee Chairs Senator James Welch (D-Hampden) and Representative James Murphy (D-Weymouth) for their support.

The bill's progress has been supported by the LSPA's Legislative Committee and the special efforts of LSPA members Attorney Susan Crane and LSP Kevin Beaulieu. They, along with two homeowners and LSPA Executive Director Wendy Rundle, testified at the bill's hearing in September 2019. 

It is the aim of the LSPA in developing S. 594 to correct the significant omission in the current law so that it accomplishes the objectives for which it was designed, which is to mandate that insurance coverage be provided for all Massachusetts households that use fuel oil. Read the LSPA's written testimony here.

Above: S. Crane, K. Beaulieu, W. Rundle after testifying in support of S 594.

Should Insurance Protect Homeowners From Financially Devastating Heating Oil Spills?

Many thanks to Ryan Kath of NBCBoston for another installment, which aired last night, on LSPA efforts to require insurers to cover the costs of remediating home heating oil spills and leaks.

The LSPA Legislative Committee is appreciative of Senator Anne Gobi's sponsorship of S. 594

Don't Assume Your Insurance Will Cover A Home Heating Oil Spill

Ryan Kath and NBC 10 have aired a 3rd installment in their series on residential heating oil spills, and this time it's a bit of good news for one Massachusetts homeowner.  MassDEP has stepped in to assist with sampling and assessment at a property previously highlighted.

This story continues to drive home the point that in order to be protected from serious financial impacts, homeowners who use oil heat must proactively contact their insurance broker to request coverage.  Most homeowners assume they are covered, when in fact most are not.

Watch the story here.    

The LSP Association (LSPA) is sponsoring legislation to address this problem.  Senate bill 594 would require insurance companies to automatically provide this coverage.  Read more here and here to learn how the LSPA's legislation will close a loophole.

For more information contact Wendy Rundle, LSPA Executive Director, [email protected].


NBC10 Boston Segment, "Home Heating Oil Spill Nightmares"

Thank you to Ryan Kath and the team at NBC10 Boston for this piece illustrating the serious challenges of home heating oil releases, especially for those who are uninsured. We expect two more parts to this series, with the final part focusing on legislation that would require insurance companies to provide specialized liquid fuel release insurance riders.  
 

While we can't comment on the specifics of this Blackstone property, we can say that Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs), attorneys, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and the LSP Association (LSPA) hear regularly from homeowners who are overwhelmed and desperate about how they will afford to clean up home heating oil releases on their properties to meet the requirements of the State’s environmental regulations. Home heating oil spills are emotional and difficult for all involved.  

Many homeowners do not have the financial means to pay for costly cleanups, and MassDEP does not have the public funds to do this itself. The backing of homeowners' insurance companies is critical to make cleanups financially viable. The LSPA is working with state legislators to mandate that insurance companies provide coverage to homeowners using oil heat - just like they do for homeowners using electric, gas, and other energy sources, and just as most homeowners would expect when purchasing insurance.  

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Who's Paying for this Cleanup? Insurance at CERCLA and 21E Sites

By:  James J. Decoulos, P.E., LSP; James Curtis, P.E., LSP; Richard Eurich, Esq.; and Arthur Kreiger, Esq.

At the May 8, 2014 LSPA Membership Meeting, the Loss Prevention Committee presented a special program on the complexities of insurance coverage issues at contaminated sites - especially homeowner sites.  This article is intended to provide a brief summary of the issues discussed at the meeting.  Note, it is impossible in this brief article to provide a full discussion of all the relevant issues that come into play in evaluating insurance.  Further, the exact coverage that is provided by a particular policy depends on the language of the policy, and the generalizations discussed at the meeting may not apply.   

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