A Commercial General Liability Reminder: Check your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Recently, a carbon monoxide leak occurred at a Syracuse, New York hotel, believed to have been caused by a faulty heating boiler. According to local news, the carbon monoxide detector went off, prompting the hotel manager to call 911. Nineteen rooms and a total of 25 people were evacuated, and five people were taken to the hospital for evaluation. This was a very fortunate outcome for this situation, as this could have led to multiple fatalities.

Such an event brought us back to 2014 when New York enacted legislation requiring every commercial building and restaurant install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors. The deadline for this was June 2015. At this time, Rose & Kiernan, Inc. alerted all of our New York clients. Penalties could result in fines or imprisonment. Prior to this law, restaurants and commercial buildings were excluded. The law itself is retroactive and applies to all existing facilities and new construction. Carbon monoxide detectors are required for any commercial building or restaurant that has appliances that may emit carbon monoxide or has an attached garage.

A commercial general liability (CGL) policy protects your business from any financial losses if you are held liable for property damage or personal injury from your business, your services or your employees. Liability coverage for a carbon monoxide event may or may not be included. A careful reading of your CGL policy (and, if applicable, the umbrella insurance/excess liability policy) is recommended and required. Every CGL policy or umbrella policy will have a pollution exclusion of some sort. The strictest is an absolute exclusion which is just as it sounds. The more acceptable wording will grant coverage by means of an exception; some companies will make an exception for pollution events caused by building HVAC issues.

For example, Commercial General Liability form, CG0001, 12/07 edition states that the broad exclusion does not apply to:

“Bodily injury” if sustained within a building and caused by smoke, fumes, vapor or soot produced by or originating from equipment that is used to heat, cool or dehumidify the building, or equipment that is used to heat water for personal use, by the building’s occupants or their guests.

Rose & Kiernan, Inc. has the loss prevention resources and the technical resources to help our clients protect themselves and the public. If you have any questions about your commercial general liability (CGL) policy or any business insurance questions, please click here or contact us at 800-242-2433.

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