POL Engineering was retained by a local architect to provide surveying and engineering services as part of a design and construction contract for a new gas station and convenience store. The gas station owner asked that the services be performed at the same time the local municipality was working on the curbing, sidewalks and entrance to the gas station.
While on-site performing construction stake out for the convenience store and parking lot, the surveyor, while relocating his equipment, accidentally kicked over a container of liquid sealant that was being used by the municipality to complete the sidewalk adjacent to the gas station.1 As a result, the sealant spilled down a storm drain which emptied into an open waterway. The polluted waterway, unknowingly used by a local turf farm as part of their irrigation system, destroyed several acres of turf. The turf farm filed suit against the gas station owner, architect and engineering firm alleging that the surveyor’s actions directly resulted in the destruction of the turf and the additional costs incurred to clean up the site. Both the architect and gas station owner looked to POL Engineering for indemnification.
Under POL Engineering’s professional liability policy, pollution coverage was available to cover pollution incidents arising from the activities of the insured on-site while providing professional services.2
Since the pollution was a result of the surveyor’s actions, the engineering firm contributed the full deductible to the claim and the policy paid $225,000 in damages for replacement of the turf and for the cleanup costs at the site.
Risk Factor #1
There are often hazardous condition on every construction site. It is important that while performing professional services on-site, individuals inquire about any potential hazards and are diligent and observant while performing their services of activities and potential hazards that could cause harm to themselves, harm to others, or damage to other properties.
Risk Factor #2
Proper insurance coverage is an important risk management tool. It is important that all professional service firms be aware of the risk involved that can result from the professional services provided and to verify that their professional liability policy provides coverage for those activities and services.