Does the Insurance Company Pay for Asbestos Testing After Water Damage?
Did you know that you could be breathing in dangerous chemicals seeping out from the asbestos in your home? Unfortunately, many homes built before 1980 have asbestos. This means that about half of all the homes currently standing in the US may contain this dangerous material!
This fact leaves many homeowners wondering if they have asbestos insurance coverage to pay for the cost. Homeowners’ insurance policies are supposed to pay for repairs caused by damage out of the homeowner’s control. So, does asbestos testing fall under this coverage?
First, let’s explain what asbestos is, signs it could be in your home, and whether or not you can have testing for asbestos paid for through your insurance.
What is Asbestos, and When is it Dangerous?
Asbestos was once thought to be a safe and effective form of insulation widely used in buildings throughout the 20th century. It is a naturally occurring mineral that was used primarily for insulation and soundproofing.
However, in 1970, the Clean Air Act determined that this naturally occurring mineral was toxic and hazardous, leading to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) proposing many laws to limit its use in residential and commercial buildings. Thus, while any home or commercial building built after 1977 in the US should not contain any level of asbestos, older structures may still have it.
According to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), asbestos fibers are often found in:
- Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts
- Floor tiles, vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives
- Cement sheets, millboard, and paper used for insulation
- Door gaskets on furnaces
- Soundproofing materials
- Patching and joint compounds on walls, ceilings, and in textured paint
- Cement roofing, shingles, and siding
If these materials are disturbed during use or removed, repaired, or damaged, they can release asbestos particles. Asbestos on its own is not necessarily toxic, but it can be hazardous if the material is breathed in – especially over long periods.
According to the National Cancer Institute, asbestos exposure is the leading cause of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining in the chest and abdomen. It can also lead to lung, laryngeal, respiratory, or ovarian cancer.
How Can I Know if My Home Contains Asbestos?
Unfortunately, asbestos does not have any smell and you cannot identify it visually either. However, some indicators could signal that a home has asbestos.
The first indicator that your home may have asbestos is its age. Any home built before 1977 has a high likelihood of containing asbestos, especially if it was built between the 1930s to 1950s. The area where you live could also increase the chances of asbestos use. The state of California has one of the highest rates of asbestos, along with New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
There are also physical signs of long-term asbestos exposure. These typically occur 10 to 30 years after exposure, but if you or your family members develop symptoms, your home should be tested.
Some of these exposure signs include:
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- Chest pain
- Respiratory complications, especially pleural effusion, plaques, or thickening
- Abdominal swelling
- Difficulty swallowing
If you are concerned that your home may contain asbestos, you should schedule a professional inspection by a DOSH Certified Asbestos Building Inspector or a DOSH Certified Asbestos Contractor Supervisor to conduct a test right away. This is the only way to know for sure if asbestos is in your home.
What Does Asbestos Testing Involve?
Asbestos testing is quite different from other types of testing, such as air quality or mold inspection tests. Professional Asbestos Inspectors will collect numerous samples throughout your home which will be tested at a lab for asbestos. This includes:
- Air samples
- Caulk and glazes
- Insulation materials
- Ceiling tiles
- Vinyl flooring
Licensed asbestos testing services often use cutting-edge technology to collect these materials safely without disturbing the structure that could contain asbestos. The samples are then tested at an unbiased third-party AIHA-certified laboratory using Polarized Light Microscopy to identify asbestos particles.
Will Asbestos Testing be Covered by Insurance?
There are some circumstances where your insurance will cover asbestos testing or removal. If your home experiences damage from a covered peril and if asbestos is released due to the damage that is covered by the policy (such as a water damage, fire, flooding, tree falling or roof damage from a storm), then insurance would pay for the Asbestos Testing. Every homeowner’s insurance policy is different, but you are encouraged to consult with your insurance company.
It is imperative for property owners to know that the practice of taking asbestos sampling should be done under a proper containment, this will be one of the important factors in the pricing.
You should not let the fact that insurance may not cover asbestos testing stand in the way of having your home inspected. There are many dangers associated with asbestos exposure – and you could be putting your life and your family’s at risk!
The cost of asbestos testing depends on several factors, such as the size of the home and location where samples will be taken from. You will need to contact an State Licensed Asbestos Testing company in the area and receive an estimate.
Can I Remove Asbestos by Myself?
If you have asbestos in your home, it is important to have it safely removed by a Licensed professional service right away. Removing materials containing asbestos can be very dangerous, as the demolition typically releases the particles into the air. For that reason, asbestos removal technicians are required to wear protective gear. You could put yourself at risk by trying to remove it yourself – so leave it to the professionals!
GP Inspect has a team of state-Certified professionals offering asbestos testing. All of our inspectors and technicians complete the required education, certification and proper training according to the EPA Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan and have passed California state Accreditation tests for their qualification. This ensures that you will receive accurate results from our inspections and all tests will be completed safely.
Need to Schedule an Asbestos Test?
Even if your insurance won’t pay for asbestos testing, you should schedule an inspection if you are worried about asbestos in your home. GP Inspect services the southern California region, and we can get a team of technicians out to your property quickly to collect samples.
Please reach out to us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about our asbestos, mold, and air quality inspection services!