How to File BP Oil Spill Damage Claims

Government Holds BP Totally Responsible

Large crane walking on beach and looking out over Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf Coast Commemorates One-Year Anniversary Of BP Oil Spill. Mario Tama/Getty Images News

UPDATE: June 15, 2010 - On June 14, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated that President Obama was considering having the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill claims process taken over by an independent, third-party entity. "The best way to prevail on BP is to take the claims process away from BP," Gibbs told CBS News. If and when that happens, this article will be updated accordingly.

Triggered by the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig on April 20, 2010, the BP spill initially dumped over 30 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico -- three times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in the Gulf of Alaska.

The environmental and economic impact of the BP spill spread from Gulfport, Mississippi to Pensacola, Florida, an area of over 25,000 square miles. 

The federal government has determined that BP will be held responsible for all spill-related removal costs and damages associated with the BP oil spill. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) and other applicable laws, BP is accountable for processing and paying all removal costs and applicable damages incurred by individuals, business, and state and local governments as a result of the BP oil spill.

To File a BP Oil Spill Damage Claim

Claims may be filed directly with BP either online or over the company's phone at toll-free 1-800-440-0858. Individuals and businesses filing claims may then be asked to visit a BP claims office location to provide further documentation. Online claim forms are available in English, Vietnamese and Spanish.

BP Claim Documentation Process

According to BP's Claims Processing Guidelines, BP will contact all claimants to verify their identity and collect a detailed description of the claim.

In most cases, claims will be handled over the phone. Claimants will be able to provide documentation by mail, e-mail or fax. In some cases, a BP Claim Representative will meet with the claimant to obtain additional information and documentation.

For business interruption losses, the BP Claims Representatives will determine the amount of time the business was not operational.

Financial records including the business' profit and loss statements and tax returns will probably be required.

If BP denies the claim, BP will notify the claimant in writing stating the reason for denial of payment.

What Will BP Pay For?

Under the OPA, BP has agreed to pay valid claims arising from the BP oil spill related to specific categories of damages caused by the spill including:

  • Oil Removal and Cleanup Costs
  • Property Damage
  • Subsistence (income) Loss
  • Net Lost Government Revenue
  • Net Lost Profits/Earning Capacity
  • Cost of Increased Public Services
  • Natural Resource Damage

Interim Payments for Lost Income

According to BP's Claims Processing Guidelines, BP has agreed to provide interim payments to claimants who are not receiving their ordinary income or profit while the oil spill cleanup is underway. A process which could take years.

The advance payment for lost income or profit will be up to the equivalent of one month lost income or profit, based on the documentation provided to support the claim.

BP further states that all claims for advance payments will be evaluated within 48 hours of their receipt of supporting documentation from the claimant.