Starting July, 2010 there will be a new law in place regarding the compliance rules for any Massachusetts homes heated with oil. The Homeowner Oil Heating System Upgrade and Insurance Law is not only changing the regulations for home heating systems, but also includes new legislation for insurance companies that offer homeowner policies.
Although the law may require some people to upgrade their systems, costing anywhere from $150 to $350, the motivation for the law is to end the possibility of oil leaks which have plagued dozens of Massachusetts homes each year.
The cost of an oil leak cleanup can be anywhere from a couple thousand to $200,000 depending on the severity of the case. Even “simple” leaks have been found to cost as much as $15,000. When oil leaks seep into a water source or reach other properties the situation can become much more complicated.
The new law requires the installation of an oil safety valve or the installation of an oil supply line with a protective sleeve. Installing one of these items on average can cost anywhere from $150 to $350 including labor and parts. Any home built on or after January 1, 1990 will likely already meet these requirements.
Any one to four-unit residences that’s oil systems do not meet the requirements must have one of the items installed by a licensed oil burner technician. The only exception to this is an oil system in which the burner is above the storage tank and the entire supply to burner is connected to and above the top of the storage tank.
Currently most insurance companies do not offer coverage for oil leaks, leaving the homeowner paying for the cleanup and any damages out-of-pocket. Under the new law, insurance companies that offer homeowner policies must offer optional coverage for oil leaks.The coverage would be optional and would cover both the costs of cleanup as well as personal property damages. A “first party” coverage plan must cover up to at least $50,000 in clean up costs and damages, while a “third party” coverage plan must cover up to at least $200,000, and would cover larger leaks that may have affected surrounding properties. The “third party” coverage plan also includes lawyer fees and guarantees a deductible of no more than $1,000. Having the option of insuring your home against oil leaks may provide some ease-of-mind to some homeowners; however, the new regulations for oil heating systems will ease the minds of many more.
If your oil heating system already complies with the new regulations you can use your fire department installation permit for documentation, or have a licensed oil burner technician certify your system.