After purchasing a house, many buyers look forward to setting up their new home. However, new homeowners may encounter asbestos during this process. The homebuilding industry used asbestos for decades in many materials and products. Repairs or renovations can disturb asbestos fibers. Once disturbed, anyone nearby can inhale or ingest the fibers. Asbestos exposure can lead to serious diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Asbestos abatement professionals can perform complete and safe home remediations. However, their services may be expensive. Depending on the policy and circumstance, homeowners insurance may be able to help. Regardless of insurance, homeowners can take precautions against asbestos exposure.
Is Asbestos Removal Covered by Home Insurance?
Homeowners insurance coverage for asbestos removal varies by policy and circumstance. Most policies exclude coverage for harmful environmental pollutants, such as asbestos. This helps keep the financial responsibility on asbestos companies for environmental rehabilitation.
However, a home insurance policy may cover asbestos remediation if it is part of a covered loss or peril.
A covered loss or peril is damage from an external factor, such as roof repair from a fallen tree.
In some cases, professionals may need to remove asbestos during the primary repair. Because of this, companies may include some asbestos costs in the full repair amount. Homeowners should speak with their insurance provider to confirm these details.
If asbestos removal is not covered by insurance, homeowners should not attempt to remove it themselves. Hiring a licensed asbestos professional is the safest way to handle asbestos in a home.
Asbestos Exposure & Associated Health Risks
Asbestos is an affordable, durable and fire-resistant mineral. In the past, manufacturers added it to many products. Companies often used it in construction materials, such as attic insulation and cement. Home repair activities may disturb asbestos, putting homeowners at risk of exposure.
Asbestos is fibrous, making it easy to inhale or swallow. The dust can also settle on clothing and other surfaces. Victims of asbestos exposure may later develop diseases, such as mesothelioma. It can take years for people with these diseases to present symptoms.
Despite known health concerns, many asbestos companies continued using the mineral for years.
By the 1980s, lawmakers had passed numerous federal asbestos regulations. These regulations restrict asbestos use in new products. However, old materials may still contain it. Homes built before asbestos regulations may contain the mineral in some areas. Residents should hire a professional if they suspect asbestos has been disturbed in their home.
Where Can Homeowners Find Asbestos?
Asbestos was an additive for many construction materials, especially materials for flammable areas of the home. For example, attics in older homes may contain asbestos building materials.
Homeowners may have these asbestos-containing products in their home:
- Asbestos ropes/sheets
- Boiler insulation
- Ceiling tiles
- Cement roofing
- Cement sheets
- Duct/pipe insulation
- Joint compound
- Roof shingles
- Roofing felt
- Siding shingles
- Steam pipes
- Stove door gaskets
- Textured spray-on paints
- Vermiculite attic insulation
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Vinyl sheet flooring
Some cities in the United States have a higher number of asbestos-containing older homes. The only safe way to check for asbestos is to hire a licensed inspector. They can confirm its presence and provide guidance on next steps for removal.
Professionals Should Handle Asbestos Identification & Removal
Individuals considering an older home may want an asbestos inspection before purchasing. Homeowners may also consider hiring an inspector before beginning home renovations or repairs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends having a professional perform all asbestos-related work.
Despite federal regulations and enforcement agencies, asbestos is an ongoing concern. Legacy asbestos products continue to put the public at risk of exposure.
Homeowners insurance may not cover professional asbestos removal, but this is not a job for homeowners. Experts, such as the EPA, recommend leaving this job to professionals. Following this recommendation can help protect homeowners and their families from asbestos exposure.