Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may soon be a reality in Western Maryland, if outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal is approved. O’Malley announced last month that he’s ready to allow natural gas drilling but only if energy companies are strictly regulated.
Hydrofracking has caused widespread concern among environmentalists for its potential to pollute air and contaminate drinking water. The regulations would attempt to limit the damage done to residential areas and the environment as a result of the practice.
The regulations would have to be enforced by O’Malley’s successor, Republican Larry Hogan, who’s already said he would closely review the regulations but may be willing to permit fracking in an environmentally safe way.
Environmentalists continue to argue that the full effects of hydrofracking are not understood, so if there is damage, will homeowner’s insurance cover it?
Nationwide Insurance scandalized the public in 2012 when it was leaked that their policies didn’t cover fracking damage. Though Nationwide was the company that made headlines, its policy is actually the typical industry standard. Most insurance companies don’t offer coverage for damage caused by environmental contamination.
But pollution isn’t the only danger associated with fracking. Fracking has also been associated with fires, explosions and seismic activity. Though most homeowner’s policies cover damage caused by hail, tornadoes and wind damage, flood and earthquake damage usually requires additional coverage.
According to NerdWallet.com, homeowners who pay more to cover fire, explosion or earthquake damage will be able to claim insurance on those damages, even if they’re linked to fracking.
If the proposal goes through, Maryland residents would be wise to check their insurance policies to see what they cover. This is a good practice to get into anyway, especially if insurers in Maryland begin offering new coverage options in light of the new developments.
Homeowners without coverage for damages associated with fracking may find themselves with a large bill and no insurance. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get coverage through a lawsuit if the wording in your policy is ambiguous, but it’s much less likely.
O’Malley is set to submit his proposed regulations later this month.