When does homeowners insurance cover asbestos removal?
Home insurance policies exclude coverage for pollutants, so asbestos removal generally won't be covered unless the asbestos was disturbed or exposed by a covered peril. For example, your home insurance may cover the cost of asbestos remediation, minus any deductible and up to your policy's limits, if asbestos was exposed or disturbed by a tree falling on your house, snow damaging your roof, or someone vandalizing your walls.
What is asbestos and why is it dangerous?
Asbestos is a natural mineral composed of soft, flexible fibers. The fibrous texture combined with the mineral's durability and resistance to fire made it a popular building material, particularly for insulation. The use of asbestos goes back to ancient times but saw its peak in the United States between the 1930s and 1970s, and traces of it are still commonly found in both houses and commercial properties that were built during that period. Scientists studying the effects of asbestos have published research that exposure to the dust from asbestos over time could lead to cancer, mesothelioma, and other lung diseases. If asbestos is safely sealed away, it poses little threat to you and your family. It's only if asbestos gets disturbed and particles are released into the air that you'll need to consider remediation.
How can I tell if there's asbestos in my house?
Was your home built before 1980? If so, there's a chance it may contain traces of asbestos. Because of its versatility, asbestos was typically used in various ways, such as:
- Exterior siding on homes
- Insulation in walls and attics
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- Insulation around pipes
- Certain paints and plasters
- In cement
- In walls and floors surrounding wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, and boilers
It's nearly impossible to detect asbestos without extensive testing, so if you suspect you have a problem, you'll need to get a professional inspection. If the asbestos isn't exposed, your best bet is to leave it alone. However, it may give you added peace of mind to get it removed. Since asbestos removal costs likely won't be covered by your homeowners insurance, you'll have to decide if you're willing to pay out-of-pocket for remediation.
Can I remove asbestos by myself?
Attempting to remove asbestos on your own could pose serious health risks. You'll want to hire a licensed specialist trained in asbestos abatement. They know all the proper safety protocols involved and have the tools and materials to remove and dispose of the pollutant safely.
If you're thinking of starting some projects around the house, consider the risk before ripping up tiles, knocking down walls, or drilling into ceilings. If you suspect your house may contain asbestos, get a professional to do an inspection before digging in. Even if you're an experienced DIYer, dealing with asbestos is best left to the experts.