That was the answer attorney Helen Slottje received from the Insurance Information Institute when she posed the following question:
Q: Are there any homeowner insurance policies that cover damage resulting from seismic testing (oil and gas exploration) or drilling activities whether occurring on land leased to the oil and gas company or on adjoining unleased land?
Her question continued: “If a homeowner signs a lease and allows seismic testing or a gas well on his or her property, will his or her homeowner’s policy be renewed, may it be cancelled for a change in circumstance or does the insurance company not mind because damage would be excluded from coverage? I live in upstate New York and shale drilling is coming to our area. Homeowners are unsure about their rights, obligations, and their ability to obtain insurance. I saw that Mr. Hartwig was quoted in a 2005 Earthworks article on this topic. Apparently, Mr. Hartwig also suggested some changes to the law that would assist homeowners. I would be very interested in reviewing those. Thank you.”
[Background, found at the Earthworks site, for the question: “Further research led Mr. Renner to Mr. Bob Hartwig, Senior Vice President & Chief Economist with the Insurance Information Institute (NY). Mr. Hartwig stated that he knew of no underwriter who would write a policy for liability insurance under the proposed circumstances. He further advised that if a landowner signed the seismic agreement to allow testing involving explosives to take place without notifying his insurance provider, he had significantly changed the conditions of his coverage; his insurance provider could potentially deny any claim based on that change in conditions. On the other hand, if the homeowner notified his insurance carrier of the seismic activities, he would most likely be cancelled, or at the very least, not renewed on the next renewal date. Mr. Hartwig went on to say, however, that the issue could certainly be resolved, although not quickly. He offered a series of solutions, including legislative changes that would be required, which are attached. Mr. Renner forwarded Mr. Hartwig’s email response to Ryan Lance, Office of the Governor, State Planning Office, Cheyenne, WY.” ]
The answer from the Insurance Information Institute: “We know of no insurance carrier that would provide coverage in this instance.”