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Insurance Coverage for Meth Contamination in Montana

Methamphetamine (or meth) is a highly addictive drug, the qualities of which make it extremely destructive to make. Because of this, cleaning up after meth use or a meth lab is not only dangerous, it’s also costly and time-consuming. If you are a property owner or landlord now forced to clean up after someone else’s meth contamination, you will want to make sure your insurance provider has you covered.

Put yourself in the best position to negotiate, with our Montana insurance claim lawyers at Hoyt & Blewett PLLC. Even after paying premiums to an insurance company for years, you cannot always count on them to do the right thing and cover the insurance claim. Our dedicated team of attorneys will work tirelessly to analyze your policy and secure compensation if your insurer wrongfully denies coverage. Don’t let your insurance company invoke ambiguous exclusions to deny your claim and prevent you from restoring your property to the way it should be. In fact, under Montana insurance law, ambiguous exclusions are construed in your favor in most cases. Hire Hoyt & Blewett PLLC and clean up meth contamination completely.

Meth Contamination Cleanup: What to Know

Meth is a powerful stimulant ingested through smoking, snorting, or intravenous injection. Extremely addictive and incredibly dangerous, this drug attacks the central nervous system, causing a person to become wired, nervous, and neglectful in order to feed a high that can end up taking over their whole life.

Although you may have seen meth labs in popular culture, such as the acclaimed TV show Breaking Bad, it is still difficult to convey how serious and violative cleaning up a meth lab is. Meth is created, or “cooked,” using a mix of deadly chemicals, the residue of which can cause serious health problems for people who are even unknowingly exposed. Even if a tenant does not operate a meth lab, but only uses meth on your property, there is still a high risk of toxic property damage. This is why it is so important to hold your insurance company responsible in its duty to cover first-party property damage. Otherwise, it is likely you will be required to pay for the lingering hazards left behind by meth use or meth labs.

Potential effects of meth exposure include:

  • Kidney and lung disorders
  • Liver damage
  • Breathing problems
  • Burning, itchy, or dry skin
  • Eye infections
  • Brain damage
  • Death

How to Establish Coverage

When it comes to your insurance, you are most likely dealing with a first-party property insurance policy. These usually fall into two categories: all risk policies, which cover everything that is not excluded, and named perils policies that specifically define what is covered under the policy. While it may be easier to find ambiguous language in an all risk policy, in many situations, coverage for meth cleanup can be established under either policy.

A recent Montana case demonstrates how first-party insurance policies can afford coverage for meth damage. In early 2020, the United States Fire Insurance Company (US Fire) faced the Greater Missoula Family YMCA in court over whether meth damages were covered by the YMCA’s insurance policy issued by US Fire.

Unknown to the YMCA, an employee had smoked meth in the daycare center enough times to inspire her to build a so-called drug den inside of a cabinet, locking it from the inside. Via the HVAC system, damage spread throughout the building. While the employee pled guilty on her own criminal charges, and the YMCA’s building was damaged, US Fire claimed their insurance policy did not cover these damages. The court, however, ruled in favor of the YMCA because they determined that the exclusions of an insurance policy must be explicitly explained by the insurance company— any language left ambiguous will be read as providing coverage.

Therefore, it is important to carefully analyze each insurance policy to ensure it does not explicitly exclude meth cleanup and does provide coverage for the damage meth use or a meth lab caused to the property. In fact, most policies do not contain explicit language excluding illegal drug use by any person. Insurance companies sometimes attempt to exclude it, regardless.

Covered perils that can be the result of a meth use include:

  • Vandalism: Both vandalism and criminal mischief are often covered under named peril policies. The destruction caused by meth use and meth labs can be characterized as vandalism under some policies to establish coverage.
  • Smoke Damage: Smoke damage is covered under many named peril policies. Given that smoke is a byproduct of meth use and meth labs, your property will likely require smoke damage cleanup, which is often covered by insurance.
  • Exclusions: Some insurers may try to exclude smoke damage and vandalism coverage under a “pollution exclusion.” Yet some claimants have been successful in arguing this exclusion creates an ambiguity when applied to meth use and meth labs, which can be construed in favor of coverage, such as in the Montana meth contamination case of US Fire Ins. Co. v. Greater Missoula Family YMCA.

Receive the Compensation You Are Entitled to, with Hoyt & Blewett PLLC

As a nationally recognized firm that works to make sure clients obtain insurance coverage all across Montana, Hoyt & Blewett PLLC is proud to fight back against insurance companies who deny claims for meth cleanup. For over 30 years, we have a long history of obtaining favorable verdicts and settlements for clients, recovering tens of millions of dollars in a wide array of cases. We protect the rights of the insured and take on insurance companies because we believe when consumers purchase insurance policies, it is important that insurance companies honor the promises they make. And because we operate on a contingency fee basis, you won’t pay anything unless compensation is obtained.

Call Hoyt & Blewett PLLC today at (406) 233-1302 and hire legal counsel that will fight for justice. Or, contact us online.