Solar Liability – Shedding Light on Coverage

Q&A with Hannah Webb

Small scale solar should be an asset that’s easy to insure; it is a safe, established technology which has been welcomed into communities across the country, whether on farmland or mounted on the local mall. However, this proximity to communities can make the procurement of liability cover for solar time consuming and labour intensive as each location can pose its own unique liability exposure. As NARDAC adds Casualty cover to its Community Solar offering to provide a one-stop-shop for brokers, Hannah Webb discusses the common casualty liabilities catching out owners.

Casualty insurance for rooftop solar, Hannah – what’s it all about?

Let’s talk through a not uncommon scenario.  Your rooftop solar installation catches fire.  The cause might be anything from arcing owing to faulty wiring, or from an extreme weather event such as hail or lightning.

The fire takes hold destroying your solar equipment, but then spreads to the rest of the building – which in this scenario, you don’t own.  The damage caused by the fire from your solar to a third party’s property is a liability that you need to cover with specific casualty insurance.

It sounds reasonably straightforward – what’s the catch?

Well, this where your liability gets complicated. If, for example, a fire were to spread from your solar installation and impacted third party property, then your liability far exceeds the replacement cost of your solar. We’re looking at examples where agricultural produce has been destroyed and landowners have sought recompense. And if you take rural California, where there is an increasing propensity for vegetation to be dry and flammable, you don’t want to be the solar owner responsible for a major wildfire outbreak. And while you would have to be unlucky to be exposed to that much liability, PG&E’s $45m Wildfire settlement is a cautionary tale1!

Well that seems pretty extreme!

It is, and to be clear, in most cases you’re more likely to find solar projects of this scale on urban commercial rooftops.  And in that case, it’s much more likely that you’ll either see a claim from a retail or commercial operation for stock that’s damaged through emergency services tackling the fire, or from smoke – particularly consumer goods like clothes or foodstuffs. And of course, not forgetting business interruption while those firms repair and restock.

The consequences of a fire seem pretty obvious, but is there anything else?

Well, liability also extends to scenarios where contractors employed by you or your client may cause an accident, or damage property in their vehicles while undertaking maintenance.

No offence to the solar O&M community, but that seems much more likely…

Ha, yes, it’s something else we have to include as standard because there’s always the chance of a, er, fender bender, while moving vehicles and equipment to and from site. 

So how is NARDAC addressing all these risks through adding casualty cover to the Community Solar service?

So, this is where our proprietary modelling helps retailers gain a true picture of the casualty liabilities from each project. Our whole aim with the Community Solar product was to bring speed and efficiency in broking and binding. In order that retailers don’t get bogged down in the detail, our Community Solar platform has a very simple drop down menu that enables you to select the fine detail on things like the closes structures to your array, or the construction material on which it sits – such as wood or concrete. Using the mapping detail already built in, it can even determine additional parameters such as the proximity of firefighting infrastructure like hydrants to your project.

Sounds pretty smart!

We think so – we just want to make it as easy as possible for small retailers across the US to access a properly comprehensive quote and bind system, that accurately measures and prices each locations specific liability exposure, which would otherwise be a time intensive and costly process.

Thanks Hannah, where do we go to sign up?

Contact me directly or have a look on our website: 


The information contained herein is offered as insurance industry guidance and provided as an overview of current market risks and available coverages and is intended for discussion purposes only. Statements of coverage availability and scope are general in nature, subject to change and underwriting of any individual risk, and provide no guaranty or warranty of coverage, express or implied. The precise coverage afforded by any insurer is subject to the actual terms and conditions of the policies as issued. Insurance brokerage and related services are provided by NARDAC Insurance Services, LLC . The publication and delivery of the information contained herein is not intended as a solicitation for the purchase of insurance on any US risk.

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