PLIA in Washington State

PLIA Insurance Coverage

In 1995 the Washington Legislature added pollution liability coverage for heating oil tanks to PLIAs responsibilities. PLIA in Washington State assists owners of underground storage tanks to provide available and affordable insurance through a state administered reinsurance program. The program was created in response to the rising number of heating oil tank releases and the significant impact contamination had on property values, as well as the environment. When a clean-up has been completed, PLIA will provide homeowners with a Letter of Finding which states that the site has met the clean-up standards defined in the Model Toxics Control Act.

PLIA can also assist homeowners with the following information:

  • Verifying the validity of required declarations of financial responsibility
  • Provide advice and technical assistance regarding liability and clean-up requirements

What is covered when insured through PLIA?

  • Up to $60,000 to clean-up contamination, not covered by other insurance, on your property and/or a neighboring property
  • The contamination must come from a leak that starts after a heating oil tank is registered with PLIA. The tank may be a UST or an AST
  • The tank must be registered in the current owners name
  • Reimbursement up to $1500 to repair damages on neighboring property (third party coverage) such as landscaping, flooring, painting, etc.

What is NOT covered through PLIA?

  • Leaks from abandoned or previously decommissioned tanks
  • Leaks that start before registering with PLIA
  • Property restoration on your property (first party coverage)
  • Removal/repair/replacement of the tank/lines/furnace
  • Emergency heat restoration
  • Heating oil lost in the release

How do you apply for insurance through PLIA?

  • No cost to register
  • Must complete and submit to PLIA the PLIA registration form
  • You must be registered with PLIA prior to the start of any accidental release in order for the clean-up to be covered
  • When PLIA receives the completed registration form, you will be mailed a confirmation. If confirmation is not received within 14 days, contact PLIA at 1-800-822-3905 or 360-407-0520

How to file a claim through PLIA

  • If a release is suspected or confirmed from your registered heating oil tank, PLIA must be contacted at 1-800-822-3905 or 360-407-0520 within 30 calendar days from the date the tank is disconnected from the furnace.
  • PLIA will investigate the claim, which may include taking photos of your property and the failed tank
  • Owner will hire an approved contractor to do the clean-up
  • All work must be approved by PLIA before the work starts

Who is the Policy through?

  • The Pollution Liability Insurance is covered through The Colony Insurance Company, please click the link to read about the WA Pollution Liability Policy

PLIA Insurance Coverage and Soil Sampling

How to get started, obtaining soil samples through a site assessment

  • The heating oil tank owner must select a service provider to perform the site assessment and is responsible for payment of all costs associated with soil sampling.
  • PLIA will interpret and provide a report to the owner with the results of the soil testing. Each report will provide the following information:
    • No apparent contamination that poses a threat to human health and the environment, no further action is required.
    • Minor contamination is present at the site and further site assessment or clean-up may be required.
    • Serious contamination is present, appears to pose a threat to human health and the environment, immediate corrective action is required.

What are the costs associated with the insurance through PLIA?

  • PLIA in Washington State insurance coverage is required to collect from the tank owner, requesting technical assistance, the costs incurred in providing assistance.
  • Costs incurred may include travel costs and expenses associated with monitoring site assessments, review of reports and analyses and preparation of written opinions and conclusions.
  • The Technical Assistance cost is $350.00 and must be paid in full prior to PLIA issuing its report of review and assessment of data.

Additional PLIA informational websites:

Heating Oil Technical Assistance Program (HOTAP) through PLIA Insurance Coverage

If a tank owner DOES NOT have insurance through PLIA, and it is determined that their tank is leaking, is there anything that PLIA can assist with?

Yes, even if the leaking tank is not covered by the Heating Oil Insurance Program through PLIA, a homeowner can request assistance on tank removal and environmental clean-up under the Heating Oil Technical Assistance Program (HOTAP).

How can HOTAP help my uninsured leaking UST?

Through HOTAP, PLIA can provide advice and technical assistance to owners of active or abandoned heating oil tanks if contamination resulting from a release is suspect. Advice and assistance may include:

  • Review of clean-up plans and reports
  • Interpretation of results from soil sampling through a site assessment or site check
  • An opinion letter from PLIA to the owner regarding the results of the testing

How does HOTAP work?

  • The owner of the UST will perform soil sampling, through a site check or site assessment. The owner of the tank may chose a service provider of their choice to perform any and all site work at the property. The tank owner is responsible for payment of all costs associated with soil sampling, site assessment and remediation.
  • Once sampling has been completed, the results of all testing must be forwarded to PLIA for review and evaluation. A copy of the service provider’s field notes must also be forwarded to PLIA.
  • If testing and remediation has been completed prior to PLIAs review, PLIA will consider providing a review and evaluation of the data. PLIA considers how recently the testing and remediation was completed and will consider the methods of the assessment prior to agreeing to review and evaluate the results.
  • Upon completion of review and evaluation, PLIA will provide an opinion letter informing the owner of the review and assessment of the data. The opinion letter from PLIA will provide the following opinions:
    • Property Further Action Opinion Letter– further remedial action is necessary at the property to clean-up contamination and remediation action is also necessary elsewhere at the site
    • Property No Further Action Opinion Letter – no further remedial action is necessary at the property to clean-up contamination at the site and that further remedial action is still necessary elsewhere at the site
    • Site Further Action Opinion Letter – further remedial action is necessary to clean-up contamination at the site
    • Site No Further Action Opinion Letter – no further remedial action is necessary to clean-up contamination at the site

What is the cost for HOTAP?

The fee for the Heating Oil Technical Assistance Program is $350.00. This fee covers the cost incurred in providing advice and assistance, expenses, review of reports and analysis, and preparation of written opinions and conclusions. The fee must be paid in full prior to PLIA issuing its report of review and assessment of data.

As a homeowner, I’ve discovered my tank has leaked but I’m not registered with PLIA.  I can now register in the HOTAP program to receive a review of the testing results and a letter from PLIA “closing the site”?  This is at a cost of $350?  All other out-of-pocket expenses; sampling, remediation, etc. come out of my pocket?

Yes, to all three questions.

My leaking tank is not registered with PLIA and I opt NOT to join HOTAP, as long as I’ve registered with Ecology I’m fine, correct?

No, the site still needs to be addressed and remediation is required. If a homeowner would like a letter stating the site has been closed through PLIA, they would need to enter into the HOTAP program.

I’m selling my home and the buyer has performed a tank search, and a tank has been found. Can I now register the abandoned tank with PLIA?

No, abandoned tanks CANNOT be registered with PLIA  in Washington State. Only active tanks are eligible for the program.

Soil Sampling in Washington

Soil Sampling in Washington State

Like Oregon, in order to determine if a tank is currently or has previously leaked, an investigative process needs to take place through soil sampling. Again, showcasing the differences between the two states, soil sampling in Washington State separates this function into either a Site Check or a Site Assessment.

Additionally, when the initial soil sampling takes place, to determine if contamination is present, the State of Washington requires a minimum of three (3) samples be taken. One sample must be taken from each end of the tank and the third sample must be taken from the middle of one side of the tank. This is unlike OR, in that, the DEQ requires only two (2) samples be taken from each end of the tank. The three (3) soil sampling requirements are the same as when decommissioning an underground storage tank in place or by removal, as long as no obvious contamination is discovered.

Soil Sampling in Washington

Soil Sampling in Washington – three (3) soil samples are taken in a Washington UST. A sample must be taken from each end of the tank and one from either side of the tank in the middle.

Site Check is the investigation of an underground storage tank site for the presence of a release when evidence indicates that a release may have occurred, but existence of such a release has not been confirmed. Once the existence of a release has been confirmed, the release shall be reported to the State of Washington Department of Ecology.

Examples for a site check include:

  • Environmental contamination may be suspected and can include, but not limited to, constituents in soils, basement, groundwater and/or surface waters.
  • If environmental contamination is discovered off site and a UST is a suspected source of the release, the department may require a site check to confirm whether the UST system is the source of the release.

Site Assessment is an investigation to determine if a release has occurred: it may be required as part of a routine closure, change-in-service, and temporary closure extension, or as directed by the Department of Ecology.

  • For the purpose of a real estate transaction or to determine the state of an in-use or abandoned underground storage tank, a site assessment is conducted.
  • If an UST System is being decommissioned in-place or removed, a site assessment must be conducted after the UST system is emptied and cleaned and all liquid and accumulated sludge has been removed. While removed, a site assessment must be conducted following tank removal.
  • If a UST system was permanently closed or abandoned before December 22, 1988 and the department determines that suspected releases from the UST system may pose a current or potential threat to human health or the environment, the department may require a site assessment to be conducted. If an abandoned tank contains product, a site assessment is required.
  • Owner/operator applies to the department to extend a temporary closure of an UST system beyond 12 months, a site assessment must be completed before the application extension will be considered.

Leaking Soil Samples in Washington State

Contamination has been verified through soil sampling, within 24 hours the leak must be reported to the Department of Ecology. Department of Ecology reporting can either be completed through contacting the state directly or through their online system.  Once the contamination submission has been received by the State, an ERTS number will be given to the person who reported the leak. The ERTS number will also be forwarded to PLIA, as PLIA has an agreement with Ecology to evaluate the adequacy of any independent clean-up action performed by the requirements in the Model Toxics Control Act.

PLIA, can also provide homeowners the option of insuring their underground storage tanks before they leak, as well as helping after a leak has been discovered. Please see detailed information on our PLIA informational page.