Pollution Coverage: The Most Important Insurance Coverage the Others Don’t Have
Swimming pool service technicians use chemicals on a daily basis. Sodium hypochlorite and muriatic acid are essential to balancing pool water to provide a safe, bacteria-free swimming environment. Improper use of these chemicals can not only lead to plaster damage, but to bacterial infections as well. It would be surprising, therefore, to learn that almost all general liability insurance policies, including those policies written for many swimming pool service associations exclude claims that involve damage or injury caused by chemicals.
The “pollution exclusion” is clear: there is no coverage for any claim arising out of the dispersal, release or escape of “pollutants”. “Pollutants” are defined as any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste.
Pollution coverage is not the same as Haz-Mat Clean up Coverage and a claim for aggressive water or injury due to over-chlorination will not be covered even if you have coverage for Haz-Mat spills.
Last year a service technician asked for my assistance when he was sued for injuries spa users incurred when a chemical feeder malfunctioned. It discharged an excessive amount of chlorine and they received burns to their skin. His “association” insurance policy denied the claim due to the pollution exclusion. Swimming pool service technicians should always, therefore, ask for a copy of the policy endorsement showing coverage for pollution & chemical-related claims before purchasing insurance. Failure to do so could result in a very large claim that is denied by the insurance carrier.