Most homeowners insurance policies will not cover asbestos removal. Asbestos is considered a pollutant and that’s something that is typically not covered by insurance.
There are some situations where asbestos removal may be covered by your insurance, but those situations must be tied to a covered peril or event. For example, if a tree falls onto your house and damages your roof and ceiling, disturbing the asbestos insulation, your homeowners insurance may step in.
It should be noted that if you find yourself in a situation like the one above, your homeowners insurance would only cover the removal or abatement of the affected asbestos. If you also have asbestos in basement ceiling tiles, their removal will not be covered by insurance.
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What Is Asbestos and What Makes It Dangerous?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asbestos is a mineral fiber that’s found in rock and soil. Asbestos is a very strong and durable fiber that’s naturally fire-resistant. This made it a popular building material in the past, especially for insulation.
Using asbestos was nothing new, but it peaked in the United States between the 1930s and the 1970s in home and commercial property construction. If a building was constructed during that period in the U.S., odds are there is asbestos somewhere in the building unless it’s already been remediated.
In the 1970s, it was found that exposure to dust from asbestos can lead to cancer, mesothelioma, and other lung diseases. While asbestos can be dangerous if it’s disturbed or dust particles are released into the area, in enclosed or stable situations it’s relatively safe. Even so, the EPA has regulations that limit the use of asbestos in building materials today to limit exposure.
If you discover that there is asbestos in your home, there’s no reason to immediately panic. Asbestos dust is the real problem so if you have asbestos in the form of insulation, it’s more likely to degrade over time and become dust. This is a situation where you’d want to take abatement or remediation steps. But if your home has floor tiles that contain asbestos, they’re considered relatively safe if they’re undamaged and can remain as is. If you decide to replace those tiles in the future, you’ll want to hire asbestos removal experts to handle them correctly.
Common Areas in the Home That Have Asbestos
If your home was built between 1930 and 1980, there’s a good chance you have asbestos somewhere. It was used in many different building materials because of its durability. Common places to find asbestos in the home include:
- Loose fill insulation (like that in the attic and walls)
- Pipe and HVAC insulation
- Acoustic ceiling tiles
- Window caulking
- Linoleum and vinyl flooring
- Some textured paints and plasters
- Heat resistant fabrics
Simply having asbestos in your home isn’t dangerous, but any activity that would disturb the asbestos – such as remodeling – can kick up asbestos dust and increase your odds of exposure.
Signs You Have Asbestos in Your Home
Detecting asbestos in your home is difficult. It’s not something the average person can spot with their eye, though a home inspection prior to closing on a house may alert you to a potential asbestos threat. To get a definitive answer, an industrial hygiene firm needs to inspect your home. They’ll do a complete assessment that includes visual examination and careful collection of samples for analysis.
The biggest clue as to whether your home has asbestos in it is the age of the home and the age of the building materials. But homes and buildings built after 1980 are not guaranteed to be asbestos-free. While the EPA pushed for a phase-out and partial ban of asbestos in the late 1980s, it’s still not completely banned, although efforts are underway to make that happen.
If you have an area of your home that you suspect has asbestos, like old ceiling or floor tiles, it’s a good idea to inspect the area regularly for damage that could lead to asbestos fragments in the air.
Can You Remove Asbestos by Yourself?
There’s no law that prevents you from removing asbestos yourself, but you may risk serious health problems, including cancer if you do. There are also legal implications for doing it incorrectly.
Proper asbestos removal is a difficult and dangerous task and there are serious repercussions if you violate the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants, including fines and possible jail time.
If you discover you have asbestos, it’s best to hire a company that is licensed by your state to perform asbestos removal and abatement. You might even want to dig into how they’ll do the job and what steps you need to take to make sure the rest of your home and the people (and pets) living in it are safe. Each situation is different because asbestos comes in many forms, so you can find differences across the board.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove Asbestos?
Asbestos removal and abatement are difficult tasks, requiring several safety precautions, proper disposal, and a professional team of experts to do it correctly. With that much care and expertise involved, the process can be quite expensive and depends on how much asbestos you have and the type of asbestos.
Rough estimates can range from a couple thousand dollars for a small area to around $30,000 for a modestly sized home. Each situation is different and it’s best to seek an estimate from a licensed professional to get a customized and accurate quote.