Beginning July 1st 2010 Chapter 453 of the Acts of 2008 will become effective… if you understood what that meant you deserve a large pat on the back. For the rest of us, Chapter 453 is a piece of legislation not yet well known however will soon affect homeowners across Massachusetts in two ways.

First, homeowners must now make sure their oil tank, whether it is above or below ground, meets the new code requirements of Chapter 453. They should also be aware there is no grandfathering in for this law. Secondly if the old oil system does conform to the new requirements the insurance company must make coverage for loss due to an oil spill available to them.

The Chapter 453 of the Acts of 2008 states:

An owner of a residential property utilizing a heating oil tank for consumptive use on the premises with 1 or more fuel supply lines or return lines in direct contact with concrete, earth or other floor surfaces shall:

1. enclose any fuel supply line with a continuous non-metallic sleeve

2. Cause an oil safety valve to be installed at the tank end of any fuel supply line in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; or

3. employ any other release prevention method approved by the board

A residential property defined for implementation of this law is a one to four unit dwelling used for living or sleeping.

Those who are exempt from the new law:

  • When the oil burner is located above the oil storage tank and the entire oil supply line is connected to and above the top of the tank OR
  • an oil safety valve or oil supply line with protective sleeve was installed on or after January 1, 1990 AND
  • those changes are in compliance with the oil burning equipment regulations; a copy of the oil burner permit from the local fire department may be used to demonstrate compliance.

If you find your oil system is not up to par, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has written an article, Homeowner Oil Heating System Upgrade and Insurance Law, to help guide and educate those in need of an upgrade. Here is a helpful excerpt:

The typical cost of installing either an oil safety valve or oil supply line with a protective sleeve ranges from $150 – $350 (including labor, parts, and local permit fees). For those households that meet certain income criteria, financial assistance of up to $300 is available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). For more information on financial assistance, see the Department of Housing and Community Development Web site at or call them at 1-800-632-8175.

After ensuring your oil safety system meets state regulations it’s time to take a look over your current homeowners insurance policy and determine whether or not you are covered for an oil leak or spill. If it does not, now is a good time to amend your policy to include this coverage. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has estimated the cleanup cost for a simple leak to cost as much as $15,000 and in cases where the leak impacts the groundwater or requires a more extensive cleanup costs could reach $250,000 or more. If you’re not sure whether or not your homeowners policy covers an oil leak, call your insurance agent and ask if he or she can explain what coverage you would have in case of an oil spill or leak.

If you’re unsatisfied with your current homeowners insurance policy or looking for a new one, give MassDrive a call. We would be happy to look into oil spill coverages for you and will quote you through different carriers, helping you to find the best price and save time. For a free quote call: 866-963-8231 or visit our MassDrive website at: