A Massachusetts family faces a $200,000 bill after a heating oil leak that was not covered by their insurance.
August 2020 was a defining moment for Emmaline and Brian Proctor, who purchased a new home in Wareham.
“We were so excited to have this house. The first time we saw it, we were just determined to get it,” Emmaline Proctor said.
As parents of one baby girl with another on the way, this home suited the growing family and was close to Brian Proctor’s job, where he is a full-time National Guardsman.
But then, on January 7 of this year, a costly problem occurred.
“I could smell it mid-morning. All of a sudden it smelled like gasoline all over the house. So Brian went down to the basement,” Emmaline Proctor said. “He opened the door and just saw a stream of oil on the floor.”
Over an inch of home heating oil had leaked from the tank, which had corroded inside.
“There’s a wooden peg that the firefighters put in, and that’s what definitely stopped the leak,” Brian Proctor said.
The health hazard prompted the family to stay in a hotel for over a week. It was then that Brian Proctor contacted their home insurance provider, Narragansett Bay.
“The biggest shock for us was that our insurance company wasn’t going to cover this,” he said.
The cost of $200,000 to clean up the contamination caused by the spill falls on the family. Their home insurance does not cover it under a total pollution exclusion clause.
“How it’s written is that anything other than drinking water is considered a pollutant,” Brian Proctor said. “So it’s not just oil.”
Over the past three years, Boston NBC10 investigators have reported several incidents in which Massachusetts homeowners have found themselves with costly cleanup bills after fuel oil spills were not covered by insurance.
Overseers, in their early 20s, want owners of all ages to revise their policies.
“If we had known that our policy did not cover anything to do with oil, we would have changed our policy,” said Emmaline Proctor. “Our house runs on oil.”
Going forward, the couple said they will continue to contact contractors in an effort to find the most reasonable estimate.