If you’ve been told that your home has asbestos behind the walls or under the floors, you want to carefully consider your options for removal or containment. Breathing in asbestos fibers aggravates lung tissue, causing them to scar and leading to many breathing disorders. Eventually, a person might also develop mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer along the lung tissue.
Because asbestos can be dangerous, you might wonder if your home insurance covers the cost of its removal or containment. While every home insurance company is different, note some common provisions in many of those policies so you better understand what to look for in your own policy!
When Might Home Insurance Cover Asbestos Cleanup?
Your home insurance is meant to protect the value of your home, ensuring that repairs can be made after a disaster or accident. Accidents and disasters covered by your home insurance include those for which you are not reasonably at fault. These disasters might include a fire, storm, or lightning strike, as well as a burst plumbing pipe or vandalism during a break-in.
Your home insurance policy reimburses the cost of repair and cleanup after a disaster, and this includes all the cleanup work needed, not just structural repairs.
If a tree falls onto your house and exposes areas of asbestos in your house, cleaning or containing that asbestos might be considered part of storm damage cleanup. Your home insurance might then cover at least a portion of needed asbestos cleaning and containment.
When Is Home Insurance Unlikely To Cover Asbestos Cleanup?
Everyday repairs and routine maintenance
Your home insurance is not meant to reimburse you for everyday repairs or routine maintenance to your house. If the asbestos is simply present in your home, your insurance is not likely to pay for the cost of its removal or for containment. This cleanup work would likely be considered routine home maintenance and upkeep, and not something that falls under your home insurance policy.
It’s also important for homeowners to realize that their insurance doesn’t typically reimburse the homeowner for damage they cause themselves. In most cases, if you decide to renovate your home and rip out some walls, pulling out asbestos as you do, cleanup is probably going to be your responsibility since you’re the one who caused the material to become exposed!
Your Options for Asbestos In the Home
Whether your home insurance pays for asbestos clean up or not, it’s good to understand your options if you discover this material in your home.
When is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is dangerous only when you breathe in or otherwise ingest its fibers; otherwise, the substance itself is not hazardous. Having asbestos in the home is like having a bottle of rat poison under a kitchen cupboard; as long as the material is contained and you don’t come into contact with it, you’re typically safe.
Depending on the type and location of asbestos in your home, you might then opt for containment rather than removal. Containing asbestos includes covering it with thick plastic sheeting, drywall, or other materials that are screwed, nailed, or bolted into place.
To help you decide between containment and removal, note a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Re-sell Value: If you plan on selling your home anytime in the future, the presence of asbestos might lower its overall value, even if the material is contained. Investing in asbestos removal now can then protect the equity of your home for a future sale.
- Future Renovations: Is the asbestos located in an area where you might eventually renovate, such as an attic you’d like to finish for a child’s playroom? If so, removing the asbestos now will ensure the area is clean and safe for future renovations.
- Proximity to Living Spaces: Is the material is located around an area frequented by your family? Asbestos behind plumbing pipes in a far corner of your home might never get come into contact with your family, but consider removing asbestos if it’s located in the crawlspace above your bedroom!
If you opt for removal hire a professional!
If you do decide to have asbestos removed from the home, remember that this is not a DIY job! Dust masks and household gloves don’t offer sufficient protection against breathing in or ingesting fibers, and those fibers can get tracked to other areas of the home. Even if your home insurance doesn’t reimburse you, it’s good to invest in a professional asbestos removal company, to ensure the work is done thoroughly and safely.