Property Insurance Roundtable

Debris Removal and Pollution Damage


A small storm that causes a tree to fall on the roof of your home, to a large-scale disaster that takes out an entire shopping plaza, will call for clean up in the aftermath. Added to this complex situation could be hazardous materials or pollutants that are exposed to the environment, nearby towns or residences, in a disaster setting that will also need to be taken care of. Our experts discuss which coverages you need to protect your home, business, and self from having to incur these additional costs. This podcast is based on the Adjusting Today article titled “Debris Removal and Pollution Damage: How These Additional Costs Impact the Property Claim.”

Key Takeaways

  • [02:06] Are the costs to clean up debris after a disaster, such as a hurricane, flood, or wildfire, included in a standard residential or commercial insurance policy?
  • [03:18] Debris removal coverage will include the following to a standard policy.
  • [04:07] What is the history of debris removal coverage?
  • [05:48] Who is responsible for cleaning and removing debris or hiring contractors to help?
  • [07:05] How can policyholders comply with insurance company rules regarding debris removal coverage?
  • [08:31] What types of pollution can result from a property damaged in a disaster situation?
  • [09:51] How does a home or business owner predict if pollutants may be exposed, in the event a disaster occurs?
  • [11:49] How has debris removal coverage impacted the settlement of policyholders’ claims?
  • [14:20] What problems have arisen for policyholders that have debris removal coverage?
  • [17:27] What type of coverage is necessary, to mitigate the risk of extracting pollutants from land and/or water?
  • [18:35] What does pollution, or the term pollutants, coverage include, and what does it exclude?
  • [19:13] Real life examples of times when pollution coverage was needed.
  • [20:37] Advice for listeners on debris removal coverage and pollution coverage.


Jim Beneke is a strong and effective advocate for commercial property owners in the aftermath of a devastating property loss. A third-generation public adjuster, he has a reputation for honesty and integrity in negotiating a fair and proper insurance settlement for his clients.

Jim’s grandfather founded A.C. Beneke & Company in New York in 1927. With the 1965 launch of The Beneke Company in Dallas, Jim’s dad R.G. Beneke introduced public adjusting to Texas and the Southwest. Twenty years later, The Beneke Company was an integral part in creating and organizing Adjusters International, a corporation of the nation’s leading public adjusting firms that serve clients around the world. In 1990, Jim brought The Beneke Company/Adjusters International to Austin where he still serves clients nationwide and keeps a close eye on the University of Texas Longhorns.

Jim’s 36 years of experience, combined with this rich family tradition, shapes his knowledge and deep appreciation for the history and growth of the public adjusting profession. He has maintained long-term relationships with clients, insurance company representatives and their experts, and others he has worked with over the years. These relationships often benefit clients that are experiencing significant property loss for the first time.

But it’s not all about what he has done in the past. Through continuing education and involvement with professional organizations and government and regulatory agencies, Jim is also well-versed on trends, laws, and other influences that shape today’s public adjusting industry. In 2003, he led the Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters’ (TAPIA) successful legislative effort resulting in Texas’ first public adjuster licensing law. He worked closely with the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) on the creation of a model licensing act for public adjusters. Completed in October of 2005, the model act is now the law in fifteen states and is the ba