Senate #534
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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The LSP Association (LSPA) is working with Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) in this new legislative session to pass a bill that would require insurance companies to provide coverage for residential heating oil spills. Senator Gobi, Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, is the primary sponsor of the bill (Senate Docket No.975), which is the same language as her 2017 bill.  
 
The more sponsors of the bill - the better. We are asking you, LSPA members and friends, to write to your State Senator to urge her or him to sign on as a bill co-sponsor. This is the week to get it done.
 
A simple email to your Senator is all it takes. Enter your home address here to find your Senator. An email might read:
 
Dear Senator (name):
 
As a resident of (your address) and your constituent, I am writing to respectfully ask you to join on as a co-sponsor to Senator Anne M. Gobi's bill, Senate Docket No. 975. This bill would make it mandatory for insurance companies to provide coverage for residential heating oil spills. This bill would provide important consumer and environmental protection in the unfortunate event of a home heating oil leak or spill.
 
There are over 100 such incidents in the state annually and cleanup costs can range from $20,000 to $50,000 for simple spills, to more than $300,000 for complex spills that impact both soil and groundwater.*
 
Only about 5% of all homes statewide that use oil heat have the specialized "liquid fuel release" insurance rider that would protect them. And most homeowners don't know that they are not protected under most existing homeowners policies unless they specifically opt in for this coverage by purchasing a rider for a fairly low additional premium.*
 
(If you have first-hand experience assisting with residential spill remediation or know someone who has experienced a spill, it's good to share that).
 
I encourage you to consider co-sponsoring Senate Docket No. 975.
 
Thank you, (your name and address)
 
For more information about the LSPA's bill, please read more here.
Thank you,

LSPA Legislative Committee Chairs
 
 
Kevin Beaulieu, LSP, Common Sense Environmental
Spence Smith, LSP, Jacobs


Over the past several months the LSP Association (LSPA) has been active at the Massachusetts State House in support of S.534 - An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases. Currently, only 5% of homes in Massachusetts using oil heat have insurance coverage! This bill, sponsored by Senator Anne Gobi and proposed by the LSPA, would make insurance coverage for home heating oil releases mandatory, giving homeowners much needed relief if they should face the often intimidating financial challenges of remediating a spill.    

In February 2018, the Joint Committee on Financial Services voted to report our bill favorably, with no changes. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means where it is currently under review. Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Middlesex/Norfolk) is the Chair of the Senate committee, and a list of committee members is here.

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Over the past several months the LSP Association (LSPA) has been active at the Massachusetts State House in support of S.534 - An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases

This bill, proposed by the LSPA, would make insurance coverage of home heating oil releases mandatory. Currently, only about 5% of homes in Massachusetts using oil heat have insurance coverage. (Check your policy, you might be incorrectly assuming that you are covered). 

Since filing the bill, LSPs, attorneys, impacted homeowners and other stakeholders have been heavily involved in advocacy efforts including providing testimony at the State House and meeting with State legislators, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the Division of Banks,  the Division of Insurance, and the Attorney Generals office. 

In the next few weeks, the Joint Committee on Financial Services will decide whether this bill will have life or if it will remain in the committee for "study." Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) is the Senate Chair of this committee. Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) is the House Chair.

Read this fact sheet and a briefing paper to learn more about this important consumer and environmental protection issue.  
Contact the LSPA at [email protected] for more information or if you would like to get involved.
Below: The LSPA and other stakeholders testify in support of S. 534
     
 

The LSPA is preparing to testify on S. 534, an act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases. Senate Bill #534 was authored by the LSPA to enhance the current law by requiring coverage be provided to homeowners and raising coverage limits to keep pace with rising remediation costs. This bill will be heard by the Joint Committee on Financial Services in mid-October.

And now, we are asking for your help! Here are a few ways that you can support S. 534:

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The LSPA's Legislative Committee has drafted legislation which would require insurers to provide coverage for releases from above ground residential heating oil storage tanks. Currently, insurers are only required to make coverage available upon request; they do not have to inform their customers that this coverage is available. The bill has been assigned Senate #534, but we still need your help to ensure that the bill becomes a law. 
 
We are seeking case studies and contact information for homeowners who were denied insurance coverage due to pollution exclusions, were burdened by the costs of a release at their home, and are willing to share their stories in hopes of preventing similar hardships for other homeowners in the future. Such stories are critical to gaining legislative support and getting the bill passed into law.  

How You Can Help: Do you know any homeowners who may be willing to share their experiences with the LSPA? If so, please contact a Co-Chair of the LSPA's Legislative Committee, Dot McGlincy or Lauren Konetzny. Your help is greatly appreciated!

Click here for more information on why this bill is so important.