Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral mined originally for its heat-resistant properties. After years of using asbestos commercially and industrially, doctors found that asbestos was the cause of several cancers. Today, finding out asbestos is in your home is a scary time for you and your loved ones, leaving you with questions. With stipulations, your homeowner’s insurance may be able to cover the costs of asbestos removal from your home.
Where is Asbestos in My Home?
If you live in a home built before the 1980s, there are a good chance parts of your home may include asbestos. Asbestos is most dangerous when disturbed. ‘Friable’ asbestos is when the mineral is powdery, crumbled, or broken down in any way, making it airborne.
Popcorn ceilings are a type of spray-on textured paint that can contain up to 10% asbestos contamination. These ceilings can easily crumble, putting you in danger of inhaling this carcinogen. Before its ban, using asbestos paint, drywall, and insulation was routine, making DIY home improvements dangerous. Generally, you can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos by looking at it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a professional to check for asbestos before doing home renovations.
Places in your home likely to contain asbestos are:
- Air duct coverings
- Automobile clutches and brakes
- Door gaskets
- Exterior window panels
- Floor and walls around wood-burning stoves
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material
- Oil, coal furnaces, and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Textured paint and patching compounds on walls
- Vinyl floor tiles, vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives
- Water tanks
Is Asbestos and its Removal Dangerous?
Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma (asbestos cancer.) Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that is caused by inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers. It develops in the lining of organs like the lungs, stomach, heart, and even testicles. Asbestos exposure can also put you and your family at risk of other health issues. Cancers of the lungs, colon, throat, ovaries, and stomach have been linked to asbestos.
If you discover your home does contain asbestos, do not remove it yourself. Any amount of asbestos exposure can cause serious health issues. You’ll want to hire a licensed specialist trained in asbestos abatement.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Asbestos Removal?
Most homeowner’s policies will have a pollution exclusion. Meaning that mitigating (or removing) a pollutant, like asbestos, is not covered. However, there is one exception. If a covered peril reveals or disturbs existing asbestos, homeowners can cover the asbestos removal costs. So, if your homeowner’s insurance policy covers natural disasters and a tornado damages your home exposing the existing asbestos, they should cover it. State insurance laws can vary as well as your insurance policy. Speak with your insurance agent to be sure of all your homeowners’ coverages.