Overseers believed they would lose their home because estimates to clean up the contamination – which include plans to pull the house off its foundation to dig 10 feet below the basement – exceeded more than $185,000. These cleanups are strictly enforced under state environmental laws.
Emmaline, 30, pregnant, and Brian, 24, have a 10-month-old daughter. She’s a paralegal who quit her job during the pandemic, and he’s a full-time National Guardsman who works as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic at Cape Cod Army Base.
They said they were shocked to learn that their 68-page policy did not cover an oil leak, even though they had their home inspected, including the tank, before buying the car. Cape-style home for $275,000 in 2020.
A report by the Supervisors building inspector noted that corrosion in oil tanks often starts inside and is not detectable from the outside.
They said their insurance agent never discussed with them the possibility of purchasing special coverage for a possible oil leak. NBIC did not respond to an email from The Globe seeking comment.
NBIC reversed its earlier stance on Thursday, saying in an email to the supervisors’ attorney that it would “immediately extend” coverage. NBIC also said it reserves the right to make further assessments as the facts surrounding the leak “continue to develop.”
“We are thrilled,” said Brian Proctor. “We hope this will soon be behind us so that we can move on with the rest of our lives.”
The overseers were featured in a Globe front page column on Monday that highlighted how the vast majority of the estimated 650,000 homeowners who heat with oil in Massachusetts do not have specific oil leak coverage in their policies. .
The column recounted the case of a Hopkinton man who testified before a legislative committee last year that he had spent more than $500,000 to clean up oil that had leaked from a tank in his house .
A bill that would make petroleum coverage mandatory and automatic in home insurance policies is pending in the Legislative Assembly, where it is opposed by the insurance industry.
Susan J. Crane, the overseers’ attorney, said she pleaded her case on behalf of the overseers to the NBIC on Wednesday.
“Neither the supervisors nor I ever imagined this [NBIC’s reversal] would be possible until yesterday, after delving into their insurance paperwork and speaking with company claims representatives,” she wrote in an email.
Still, Crane warned, homeowners who heat with oil should get specific coverage for oil leaks — a “liquid fuel endorsement,” in insurance jargon. It usually costs less than $100 per year.
The Proctor’s case “is an unusual finding,” she said. “No one should rely on coverage without a liquid fuel endorsement.”
She refused to discuss the details of the guards’ case.
Crane also urged the legislature to pass the pending bill. “It’s essential,” she said.
A GoFundMe page created by a member of the Proctor family shortly after the January 7 leak raised nearly $10,000. After the Globe column was published, which included a link to the page, the fund swelled to nearly $83,000.
Overseers stopped accepting donations on Thursday in light of the NBIC’s new position, although “we continue to pay legal fees and may still face significant uninsured costs,” they wrote on the page. GoFundMe.
“When the cleanup is complete, if any funds remain, they will be donated to charity. We are overwhelmed with love and gratitude,” they wrote.
It was signed by “Emmy, Brian, Aria & baby-on-the-way!”