With the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, companies with direct physical damages to their own location require remediation and may have insurance coverage to help with the expense of cleaning the virus. While not all insurance policies are alike, it’s important to know how your insurance policy defines “Pollutants” or “Contaminants”. In the below example, the definition of “Pollutants” doesn’t include “Virus”:
“Pollutants” as: “any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals, and waste. Waste includes materials to be recycled, reconditioned, or reclaimed.”
In other commercial policies, under “Additional Exclusions”, policy language may reference “Bacteria or Virus” as seen below, but this specific exclusion applies to the enforcement of any ordinance or law which may not apply to your specific claim for damages.
We will not pay under this Additional Coverage for:
(a) The enforcement of any ordinance or law which requires the demolition, repair, replacement, reconstruction, remodeling, or remediation of property due to contamination by “pollutants and contaminants” or due to the presence, growth, proliferation, spread of any activity of “fungi”, wet or dry rot, bacteria or virus; or
(b) The costs associated with the enforcement of any ordinance or law which requires any insured or others to test for, monitor, clean up, remove, contain, treat, detoxify or neutralize, or in any way respond to, or assess the effects of “pollutants or contaminants”, “fungi”, wet or dry rot, bacteria or virus.
(c) Loss caused by, resulting from, contributed to, or aggravated by an earthquake or volcanic eruption.
(d) Loss due to an ordinance or law that: (i) You were required to comply with before the loss even if the building was undamaged; and (ii) You failed to comply with.
Commercial Pollution and Contamination Clean-up or remediation are typically excluded in many commercial policies. Although, if an endorsement for “Pollution and Contamination clean-up” is purchased, you may have coverage for the decontamination of viruses on building surfaces. As seen in the example below, Pollution and Contamination Clean-up includes Viruses.
“The term “POLLUTANTS” or “CONTAMINANTS” shall mean any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or CONTAMINANT including, but not limited to, smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals, virus, waste, (waste includes materials to be recycled, reconditioned or reclaimed) or hazardous substances as listed in the Federal WATER Pollution Control Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, and Toxic Substances Control Act, or as designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
Please note that most insurance policy endorsements such as “Pollution and Contamination Clean-up” have sub-limits per occurrence which vary from policy to policy.