Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was extensively used as a construction material before the 80s. Its resistance to heat made it a suitable insulating material for pipes, floor tiles, ceilings, and other building materials. The use of asbestos was popular in construction, until such time that it was found out to be a carcinogenic substance. If your house was built before 1980, it’s highly possible that asbestos may have been used on your wall, ceiling, or floor.
But don’t worry just yet. Although your home may have asbestos, you are not necessarily prone to its dangers. As long as you are not exposed to asbestos fibers and dust, there’s a very remote chance for it to cause you trouble. For lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma to develop, there needs to be prolonged and heavy exposure to asbestos fibers.
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To remove or not to remove asbestos?
Asbestos is an excellent insulating material. If you live an older home that is built before 1980, it’s highly likely that your home has it. But whether you need to have it removed or not, depends on its present state. If you know you have on your home but your walls are well intact, you can leave it as it is. As long as it is sealed and that you haven’t done any renovation where you needed to drill or remove a portion of the wall, you have nothing to worry about.
But if you had some major restoration work, it would be wise to subscribe to the services of a professional who can validate the presence of asbestos and recommend the course of action that you can take. Whether you are uncertain that you have asbestos or not, do not in any way attempt to remove it. The savings that you will get by doing it yourself will not outweigh the risks that you are exposing your family into.
When is asbestos removal not covered by home insurance?
Asbestos removal is not as simple as removing unwanted material. The inherent danger in such undertaking makes it a costly effort for any homeowner or insurance provider. When the asbestos abatement is not meticulously done, it can pose more troubles than benefits. Inhalation of asbestos fibers and dust that were exposed during the abatement process are the actual dangers that anyone should avoid.
Usually, home insurance companies would classify asbestos as a pollutant or a contaminant. Although it may not be listed in some instances, its mere property of being a carcinogenic material makes it to the exclusions list, along with chemicals, fuels, etc. If your policy does have pollutant or contaminant in the exclusions, you better check with your agent and ask for clarification.
When does home insurance cover asbestos removal?
Although asbestos removal is not generally covered, your standard home insurance does have inclusions where asbestos abatement can fall, depending on the circumstances. Look into your policy’s covered perils, and there you will see whether your home insurance will shoulder the expenses or it’s you who would be spending from your own pocket.
If a covered peril took place naturally and not because of negligence or deliberate action, you can possibly spare yourself from thousands of dollars for removing asbestos. Depending on your policy, common covered perils would include wind damage, water damage, fire, and structural damage.
If your home is damaged by wind and caused your ceiling to fall, or if a tree falls into your home and cracked the wall, asbestos can be exposed and remedial measures have to be undertaken. In any case, your insurer will verify the circumstances and will need to be sure that the fallen tree is indeed due to strong winds and not because of your procrastination in having a diseased tree taken out before a tornado.
If your home is damaged by fire, there’s also a big chance that asbestos can be exposed. While it is a fire resistant material, the other components that keep it sealed are more like not.
In cases of floods and earthquakes, the chances of damaging the asbestos encapsulation within your walls or floors are ultimately high. If your insurance does include acts of God, you will likely be free from the costly asbestos abatement, along with the other damage that an earthquake or a flood may have caused.