Heaps of older homes used asbestos when they were built, an expensive problem to fix when making repairs or renovations. Because of its widespread use, most home insurance policies won’t cover any damage or liability related to asbestos, except in specific situations.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a building and manufacturing material used widely before the 1980s. While asbestos was considered affordable and durable decades ago, we now know that direct exposure to asbestos can harm people’s health. Several types of cancer are linked to asbestos exposure, as well as other lung diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Is asbestos banned in the United States?
No, but the US restricts the use of asbestos in products through the 1989 Partial Ban under the Toxic Substances Control Act. You can see the updated laws on using asbestos for building materials on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
Does home insurance cover asbestos removal?
No, home insurance companies typically rule out any asbestos-related costs. That’s because asbestos may be present in hundreds of thousands of older US homes.
If insurance companies promised to pay for asbestos removal in every one of them, they’d charge much higher premiums to cover the potential costs.
However, you might get coverage to remove asbestos if your home gets damaged by a covered situation that releases the harmful asbestos in the air. For example, if a major storm damages your roof and ceiling that were made with asbestos-containing materials, your home insurance should pay to remove any harmful particles released and repair the damage with non-asbestos materials.
Does renters insurance cover asbestos removal?
No, renters policies won’t cover removing asbestos found in your rental home. If asbestos poses danger to renters, the landlord would hold the responsibility to remove it or risk getting sued for renters’ health problems.
Landlords can find business insurance policies with protection for asbestos liability, though getting this insurance won’t save renters from related medical issues or death. This liability coverage protects the landlord from legal expenses and settlements for exposing renters to asbestos.
What can you do if you discover asbestos in your rental?
If you find asbestos, you could consult a lawyer on whether the finding qualifies as a reason to break your lease, or even sue your landlord if you’ve experienced health problems.
Believe it or not, landlords aren’t required to disclose that their rental home or apartment was built with asbestos materials. However, every landlord has a legal responsibility to provide renters with livable conditions in the rental home.
How can I protect my home from asbestos?
The good news is that asbestos poses its risk when asbestos particles get released in the air. Many homeowners of older buildings choose to leave the asbestos materials undisturbed.
However, if you own or want to buy a home built before 1990, you might want an inspection from a licensed asbestos contractor. The inspection will identify if your home has asbestos, the condition it’s in and give you guidance on managing the risk.
If you’re not sure whether products in your home contain asbestos, you should treat them as if they do. Consider an asbestos inspection or removal when renovating or repairing your home.
Where can I find asbestos in my home?
Because asbestos is a mineral used in a variety of building materials before the 1980s, you might have a hard time pinpointing it in your house without a professional. A professional asbestos contractor can scout your home for potentially harmful building materials and send samples to test in a lab.
Asbestos-containing materials can be found in several areas, including:
- Coal and oil furnaces and door gaskets
- Clutches and brakes for your car
- Heat-resistant fabric
- Hot water and steam pipes — sometimes protected with an asbestos wrapping
- Lining behind wall tiles – packing under beams
- Patching compounds used for walls and ceilings
- Roofing and siding
- Splashbacks – textured paints
- Thermal insulation around fireplaces – wall sheeting
- Walls and flooring surrounding wood-burning stoves
- Vermiculite attic and wall insulation
- Vinyl floor tiles and vinyl underlay
Compare home insurance policies with the right coverage for you.
While a home policy probably won’t cover you for removing asbestos, it can protect your home from other damaging situations.
Your home insurance probably won’t cover removing asbestos, but your home’s policy might pay for removal if the asbestos gets damaged in a covered situation. For renters, you’ll have to rely on your landlord to protect the property from asbestos, although damaged asbestos could give you a reason to consult a lawyer or break your lease.
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