United Utilities were recently fined £750,000 for a sewage spill which polluted a Cumbrian estuary, of course this figure is just the tip of the fatberg and will not include investigation and clean-up costs. A bill a fraction of that magnitude would devastate most small and medium sized businesses and yet there is still a blinkered ignorance amongst many companies regarding what constitutes adequate containment and insurance cover.
You would not expect your car insurance to cover you if you had your house burgled, and yet businesses across the UK wrongly assume that their standard liability insurance will pick up the tab for everything if they have a spill or firewater incident. “Insurance cover for environmental losses is often incomplete or even non-existent without a dedicated environmental policy in place.” That was the conclusion of a report from the International Underwriting Association(IUA) detailing ‘Environmental Loss Scenarios’ which graphically highlighted the gap between what is and what is not covered by standard liability insurance. The fact that so many insurance companies have launched stand-alone environmental liability insurance cover should reinforce the message that specialist claims require specialist policies. Fitting a top of the range alarm and tracker system will gain you a discount on your car insurance, environmental risk insurance companies in their own interest and those of their policy holders should be far more vocal in offering discounts to businesses who do more than simply tick the minimum H&S boxes.
A site which has invested in a 24 hour fully-automated in-drain locking valve system should not be paying the same premium as one who relies on a couple of poorly stocked spill kits. It’s worth remembering that the Environmental Liability Directive is called the ‘Polluter Pays’ not ‘Your Insurance Company Pays’.
I would urge all businesses to review their insurance cover as a matter of urgency and shop around for those companies who are prepared to discount-reward businesses who have taken the responsible step of training their staff properly and installing realistic containment systems.
Editor: Containment News, Flood News, Wireless eNews & LPRA eNews
Containment News March 2015