Commonly used in home materials for around 30 years, asbestos was once heralded for its resistance to fire and ability to insulate — making it seemingly ideal for roofing material, home insulation, and much more. Not anymore.
first things first: what is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that's fibrous in nature, known for its extreme durability and resistance to fire. That, in addition to its ability to insulate really well, is the reason why it was used for so long in both commercial and industrial capacities — including home construction.
But when asbestos was discovered to be a carcinogen (causing cancers like mesothelioma and other lung diseases after breathing in particles of the material), the Environmental Protection Agency enacted strict asbestos regulations and its use sharply declined in the late 1970s.
asbestos abatement and removal costs: can home insurance help?
When it comes to inspection, removal, and abatement, some homeowners policies may not cover such expenses if asbestos simply exists in your place. That's because dormant asbestos — that is, undisturbed and unexposed asbestos that may be found in certain areas of your home — typically doesn't pose a significant health risk.
It's when you disturb asbestos (by, say, renovating your older house without help from the pros, who know what to look for given the age of your house) that harmful particles go flying into the air and pose safety issues. However, any asbestos that is disturbed due to neglect on your part may be your responsibility to cover.
But if a covered peril like a windstorm damages your roof, for example, and it disturbs previously dormant asbestos, there's a possibility your home insurer could cover a portion of the cost of removing or abating asbestos from the damaged areas. However, depending on what your policy provides, any loss to property or people from the asbestos may be excluded from coverage.
You should refer to your policy documents for information about what your particular homeowners insurance policy will cover. If you're an Esurance policyholder and have questions about your homeowners coverages, feel free to give us a ring at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). Our agents are available to help at these times.
hidden dangers: where asbestos could be found in your house
Due to its reputation for being a versatile home material, asbestos can be found in a handful of places in your house, depending on its age and renovation history. A few spots where asbestos may be lurking include:
- House insulation in homes built between 1930 and 1950
- Attic insulation
- Cement roofing and siding shingles
- HVAC duct insulation
- Plaster and some forms of paint
- Vinyl floor tiles and some forms of linoleum
- Window caulking and glazing
- Some forms of glue that attach floor tiles to wood or concrete
- Walls and floors surrounding wood-burning stoves
- Soundproofing material
Removing asbestos: leave it to the pros
Since agitating areas in your house where asbestos may be lying dormant can pose a major health risk to you and your family members, it's always best to hire a professional to investigate, remove, or abate it.
If you're set on some DIY home renovations and you're not sure whether or not your place contains asbestos, it's a good idea to have a pro inspect your place first.
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