By Amanda Duncan, President, PartnerOne Environmental

Travel around any city – big or small – and you inevitably pass by a variety of commercial, industrial, and retail properties. For instance, there are over 17,000 car dealerships throughout the USA. Over 50,000 self storage facility buildings. 100,000 plus shopping centers.  5,000,000 apartment/condo buildings! These are just a few examples of facilities we all see on a typical day in the life of an environmental insurance carrier. Guess what they all have in common? Pollution exposures. Just this illustration alone suggests over 5 million possible account opportunities in which an insured should consider purchasing a Site Pollution policy. Let’s take a look at the many exposures that could affect these examples, as well as apply to the countless other properties we all pass by on a daily basis.

Most auto dealerships have the ability to service and fuel vehicles. This means there is most likely a storage tank or some type of container that holds fuel at these locations. In addition, many of these facilities provide service and repair work, therefore hydraulic lifts, oil, and grease are present. Spills, leaks, and stormwater runoff are daily occurrences. Similar conditions can also exist at auto parts stores, oil changing stations, as well as full service car washes.

Self storage facilities can be new or old and of course store contents of all shapes and sizes. Older buildings may have existing asbestos insulation and tiles, as well as lead paint and lead piping. Climate control/ HVAC systems or sprinkler systems may malfunction causing water damage, which leads to mold growth that can quickly spread to multiple units. Self storage facilities also attract illegal or “midnight” dumping of hazardous waste, drums, or containers and even methamphetamine labs have popped up at self storage properties.

Shopping centers may be one freestanding big box store, or several businesses leasing space in multiple buildings. Grocery stores, restaurants, dry cleaners, nail salons, home improvement warehouses…the list is endless and so are the potential pollution exposures. Many of these businesses sell and/or store materials and chemicals that could be deemed hazardous. There are fuel powered generators onsite as well as grease traps, floor drains, and waste collection containers. All of these centers are surrounded by asphalt parking lots and cars, so the oily sheen often seen on the blacktop runs off to neighboring properties or creeks during rainstorms. Water damage and mold are also issues, as well as asbestos and lead in older construction.

Apartments/condos/multi-family units have many of the same exposures as described above, which can become even more serious given human health concerns. Water damage can easily occur from damaged piping, fire suppression systems, and heating/air conditioning malfunctions. Mold can grow and spread rapidly, causing both illness and property damage. Complexes also contend with equipment and chemical storage, waste disposal, heating oil tanks, and pesticide/herbicide application. Office buildings, medical facilities, schools, and assisted living communities share many of these same issues.

Pollution exposures exist in, at, or on most any structure dotting our landscape―from small towns to major cities and all communities in between. The possibilities, and opportunities, to discuss pollution policies with your client are endless.