Will Your Insurance Cover A Kerosene Oil Spill?

Tuesday 5th March 2024

Joanna Grimbley-Smith

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A heating oil tank in a garden

CONTENTS

Heating oil spills can put people's health at risk, damage the environment, and incur huge clean-up costs. Making sure your home insurance covers you in the event of a spill is critical to protect your property and finances against its devastating effects. 

Here at ICE Cleaning, we have oil spill cleaning specialists stationed across the UK who are ready to clean up any type of kerosene spill, including spills on hard surfaces or in the environment. In an emergency, they can be on site within several hours. 

Keep reading to learn more about what home insurance covers if a spill occurs. 

What does home insurance cover?

Kerosene spills fall under the category of accidental damage for many insurers. This means that if a spill occurs due to an unforeseen accident, your policy may offer some level of protection or compensation for cleaning and restoring the affected areas.

Most policies will cover you for a loss of fuel through theft or spills but they will not cover the cleanup of an environmental spill on your property. If the spill pollutes neighbouring land, water, or properties, the third-party liability cover usually contains restrictions. 

Pollution incidents are often included with a financial limit and cover restrictions, like whether the spill or leak was caused by a sudden incident and not poor maintenance. 

It is crucial you carefully look over your insurance paperwork to make sure you understand what types of accidents are covered and find out if there are any exclusions or limitations. 

What causes heating oil tanks to leak?

The integrity of heating oil tanks can be compromised by several factors and may eventually lead to leaks. 

Poor maintenance

Regular checks are essential for spotting early signs of wear-and-tear that could lead to leaks. This includes looking for rust, dents, or any form of damage on the tank.

Routine inspections by professionals can identify issues that are not immediately obvious to untrained eyes. These include problems with valves, pipes, or the tank foundation itself.

Corrosion

When water accumulates at the bottom of a tank, it can attack the metal over time and cause leaks.

To prevent this from occurring, use additives designed specifically to prevent corrosion within your fuel can be effective. Newer models made from materials resistant to corrosion offer longer lifespans compared to traditional steel tanks, too.

Aging infrastructure

As with anything else, aging plays a critical role in the integrity of an oil tank. Most have a lifespan ranging between 15 and 20 years depending on the material, construction quality, and environmental conditions.

Tanks beyond their service life may not show immediate external signs of issues but could be failing internally. Upgrading your tank before it fails is critical to avoid a major spill.

Environmental factors

Extreme weather conditions also put pressure on outdoor storage solutions like home heating oil tanks. Heavy snowfall, flooding, or high winds can physically damage units or dislodge them if not secured. It is therefore recommended you place your tank in a strategic position away from flood zones. 

You can learn more about what causes oil spills at home here

The dangers of a kerosene spill

When spilled, kerosene can contaminate soil and water bodies, leading to long-term ecological damage. This contamination affects not only plant life but also the animals dependent on these resources for survival. Kerosene's slow breakdown allows its pollutants to linger in ecosystems for long periods of time, too. 

The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the atmosphere during spills can even contribute to air pollution and smog formation. 

Kerosene is dangerous to be exposed to, as well. Inhaling or touching it poses serious health risks including respiratory issues, skin irritation, and - in severe cases - neurological problems.

Prompt action and specialised cleaning procedures are necessary to protect people's health and minimise the damage a spill can cause.  

What should you do when kerosene spills?

First, you need to contact an oil spill clean up company. They will contain the spill and perform an on-site assessment of the situation. If you are dealing with an environmental spill, contact the Environment Agency. Then you need to get in touch with your insurance company to notify them of the spill. 

Whether a spill happens on a hard surface or in the environment, you must leave clean up to oil spill cleaning professionals. They will have the specialist equipment and training to quickly, thoroughly, and safely clean up all traces of the oil. 

Although there are plenty of DIY oil spill cleaning solutions shared online, such as spreading sand or cat litter over the spill, an ineffective cleaning method could leave oil behind which will continue to put people's health in danger and pose a fire risk. 

Cleaning environmental spills is particularly challenging, too, and will require environment consultancy to ensure clean up is thorough and is done in a way that protects the environment.

Oil spill cleaning professionals can give you peace of mind all the oil will be removed and your property will soon be restored to its previous, safe condition.  

You can learn more about cleaning up kerosene spills in this blog

Get in touch

We operate 24/7, 365 days a year, including bank holidays. 

To learn more about our oil spill cleaning services and kerosene spill clean up services, contact our team on 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk

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