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Oil Tanks & Homeowner’s Insurance

Helping to Protect Your Home—and Your Financial Security

oil tank insurance massachusettsDo you have a heating oil tank in your Greater Boston area home? If so, you may have seen a story in the news recently about a young Wareham, MA couple who nearly lost their home due to a heating oil tank failure. In this instance, their homeowner’s insurance company initially refused to cover the nearly $200,000 in cleanup and replacement costs.

That massive bill Emmaline and Brian Proctor faced was largely due to the cost of removing the contaminated soil from under their home. Fortunately, thanks largely to public and media attention, the insurance company relented and agreed to cover a large amount of the costs related to the heating oil tank failure.

The tank failure itself, caused by a great deal of corrosion inside the tank, caught the Proctors by surprise, as the tank was only 18 years old and had another 12 years before reaching the average heating oil tank life expectancy of 30 years.

So, if you use heating oil in your South Shore home, there are some very important lessons from this:

  1. Most homeowners’ insurance policies here in Massachusetts DO NOT cover the costs of repairing or remediating damage caused by leaked heating oil, or heating oil tank replacement.
  2. There are specialized heating oil tank insurance policies that can help cover the costs of repairs, replacement, and remediation. Talk with your insurance agent or company about those to become more familiar.
  3. You need to pay attention to your heating oil tank no matter how new—or old—it may be.

How Can I Prevent Heating Oil Tank Troubles?

The corrosion that destroyed the Proctors’ heating oil tank may have been caused by condensation building up in the bare walls of the tank’s interior. That condensation eventually drips down into the heating oil—and because water is heavier than heating oil—it sinks down to the bottom of the tank and accelerates the development of sediment leading to corrosion.

Keeping your heating oil tank full, especially in the spring and summer seasons when the development of condensation is amplified, helps prevent the development of condensation. That can help extend the life of your heating oil tank.

Is your heating oil tank more than 20 years old? Now is a good time to be proactive and start planning—or saving—for your heating oil tank’s replacement. Set a reminder on your phone’s calendar to inspect your heating oil tank at least once a month.

Here are the things that you need to keep an eye out for. Any of them could be signs of trouble with your heating oil tank and—at worst—a sign of looming failure:

  • Oil pools or spots on the floor or ground around the tank
  • Large or multiple patches of rust, especially on the underside of the tank
  • Warping or dents on the tank
  • Damage to the tank legs, brackets, or platform
  • Pinhole leaks
  • Condensation on the exterior of the heating oil tank after it was filled

If you discover any of these, no matter how old your heating oil tank is, please contact us right away so we can come take a closer look. If you require a new tank, we’ll let you know so that we can start the process.

And if your heating oil tank is more than 30 years old, or you don’t know how old it is, you should begin now to plan its replacement, as you are likely on borrowed time!

Oil Tank Tips for New Homeowners or Buyers

Are you buying a home that uses heating oil? Make sure that the tank is thoroughly inspected BEFORE you buy. If the heating oil tank is underground, you should factor in the cost of having it removed and replaced with an aboveground tank, as well as any remediation costs, into future expenses for that home.

Also, have the property checked to make sure that there are no old underground heating oil tanks. If there are, you’re also buying any future removal or remediation costs for those along with the house itself.

Frank Lamparelli serves Canton and the entire Greater Boston area, and we can help with everything related to your home’s heating oil tank! Contact us online or give us a call with any questions you may have—we’ll be happy to help.