Neighbours Oil Leak his insurance won’t pay

Hi. I am looking for some advice on urgent action to take. Our neighbours heating oil had had a serious leak. Our road is a hill and they are uphill from us. Thier oil has seeped across the entire width of our property and onto our downhill neighbours property on the other side. We called out an engineer yesterday after our downhill neighbours report seeing oil on their drive and he discovered the corroded pipe. He says it’s the worse leak he had ever seen and we think it’s at least 500 litres. The environment agency was called out and they told out neighbour to phone his insurance company immediately to get an environmental company out. As our neighbours oil pipe is on the edge of his property he has very little contamination. We have been told by both the engineer and the environment agency that the clean up is likely to be very very expensive and one suggested over £100k. We phoned our insurance company as a precaution and they have said that although we are covered for oil leaks that would only be for our own tank and this is the neighbours liability. 100%. However today  The environmental clean up company came out but have said they won’t even inspect our property as our neighbour only had buildings insurance and third party liability requires content insurance. His insurance company won’t go into the details with us but have said we should be making a claim with our insurance company. Called our insurance company and they have said again it’s the neighbours liability. We understand the longer the oil is left the worse the damage. Can it damage the foundations of our house? Also can the environment agency make us have it cleaned. We don’t have that sort of money. Obviously our house value is impacted until it is cleaned but will it impact it after it’s cleaned. I know we could sue our neighbours but if they aren’t insured they are unlikely to have the money to pay. Our garden is 100ft wide so this is a significant amount of soil contaminated 
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  • paddyandstumpypaddyandstumpy Forumite
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    The neighbour is liable if negligent. Simple as that. 
    Buildings insurance generally does include Public Liability cover, which covers PL as a result of ownership of the insured address. 
    Contents insurance PL cover generally covers PL as a result of occupancy of the insured address. 
    There are cross overs with this split, and I would argue that Buildings PL should respond in absence of Contents PL cover. 

    If your policy wording suggests you're only covered for oil spills from your own infrastructure (ask insurers to direct you to the relevant clause they are relying on), then there may be a gap in your coverage, in which case your insurance may not respond. 
  • sonja2234sonja2234 Forumite
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    The neighbour is liable if negligent. Simple as that. 
    Buildings insurance generally does include Public Liability cover, which covers PL as a result of ownership of the insured address. 
    Contents insurance PL cover generally covers PL as a result of occupancy of the insured address. 
    There are cross overs with this split, and I would argue that Buildings PL should respond in absence of Contents PL cover. 

    If your policy wording suggests you're only covered for oil spills from your own infrastructure (ask insurers to direct you to the relevant clause they are relying on), then there may be a gap in your coverage, in which case your insurance may not respond. 
    Thanks so much. He only bought the house 2 months ago so there seems to be an implication that the negligence was the previous owners. I will ask our insurers to direct us to the relevant clause. That haven’t specifically said they don’t cover damage from other properties but just keep saying they are liable. I will go back to them. Thanks 
  • TELLIT01TELLIT01 Forumite
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    This could get complicated.  As paddyandstump says, the neighbour will be liable if they were negligent, but as he only moved in 2 months ago, and the leak was caused by corrosion, it would seem unlikely that the new neighbour can be considered negligent unless they were messing with the tank causing the leak and then failed to address the problem.  Proving the old occupant knew of the problem will be close to impossible.  You do need to go back to your insurer at this stage.
  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    Do you have legal assistance with your own insurance?
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • sonja2234sonja2234 Forumite
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    TELLIT01 said:
    This could get complicated.  As paddyandstump says, the neighbour will be liable if they were negligent, but as he only moved in 2 months ago, and the leak was caused by corrosion, it would seem unlikely that the new neighbour can be considered negligent unless they were messing with the tank causing the leak and then failed to address the problem.  Proving the old occupant knew of the problem will be close to impossible.  You do need to go back to your insurer at this stage.
    Thanks. We went back to Our insurers and they have been great. 
  • pinkteapotpinkteapot Forumite
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    sonja2234 said:
    TELLIT01 said:
    This could get complicated.  As paddyandstump says, the neighbour will be liable if they were negligent, but as he only moved in 2 months ago, and the leak was caused by corrosion, it would seem unlikely that the new neighbour can be considered negligent unless they were messing with the tank causing the leak and then failed to address the problem.  Proving the old occupant knew of the problem will be close to impossible.  You do need to go back to your insurer at this stage.
    Thanks. We went back to Our insurers and they have been great. 
    Glad to hear it. :) Your insurer are meant to help you, and reclaim their costs from a third party if they can. Naturally they'll initially try to fob you off into sorting it yourself direct with the third party. Glad you managed to escalate it, or got a more helpful person on the phone this time!
  • JudgeDekkerJudgeDekker Forumite
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    I'd be really interested to hear the full story here. What did your insurance company do for you, please? Did they pay your bill to have your garden decomtaminated? Did your policy book actually say that you were only covered for leaks from your own tank. If this happened to me I wouldn't know where to begin, so I'm keen to learn.
  • TadleyBaggieTadleyBaggie Forumite
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    Don’t hold you breath, the OP hasn’t logged on for almost 2 years. 
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