A Massachusetts family is on the hook for a $200,000 bill after a leak of home heating oil that was not covered by their insurance.
August of 2020 was a milestone moment for Emmaline and Brian Proctor, who bought a new house in Wareham.
"We were so excited to get this house. The first time we saw it, we just were determined to get it," Emmaline Proctor said.
As parents of one baby girl with another on the away, this home suited the growing family and was close to Brian Proctor's job, where he serves as a full-time National Guardsman.
But then, on Jan. 7 of this year, an expensive problem happened.
"I could smell it mid-morning. It just, all of a sudden, smelled like gasoline throughout the house. So Brian went down to the basement," Emmaline Proctor said. "He opened the door and just saw a flood of oil on the floor."
More than an inch of standing home heating oil had leaked from the tank, which had corroded inside.
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"There's a wooden dowel that the fire department put in, and that's what permanently stopped the leak," Brian Proctor said.
The health hazard prompted the family to stay in a hotel for more than a week. That's when Brian Proctor contacted their home insurance provider, Narragansett Bay.
"The biggest shock to us was that our insurance company wasn't going to cover this," he said.
The $200,000 cost of removing contamination caused by the spill falls on the family. Their home insurance doesn't cover it under a total pollution exclusion clause.
"How it's written is that anything other than potable water is considered a pollutant," Brian Proctor said. "So it's not just oil."
In the last three years, the NBC10 Boston Investigators have reported on multiple incidents in which Massachusetts homeowners were left with costly cleanup bills after heating oil spills were not covered by insurance.
The Proctors, in their early 20s, want homeowners of all ages to review their policies.
"Had we known that our policy didn't cover anything to do with oil, we would have changed our policy," Emmaline Proctor said. "Our home runs off oil."
Going forward, the couple says they will continue reaching out to contractors in an effort to find the most reasonable estimate.