Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
The fact is, most insurance companies don’t offer “pollution coverage,” which includes asbestos removal and/or abatement. Asbestos removal insurance coverage can be hard to come by in today’s market. The good news is that much of the asbestos found in older homes is relatively stable and does not require abatement or remediation if left undisturbed.
American Family specifically excludes asbestos removal from its covered perils because the majority of asbestos-containing construction materials in older homes don't pose an immediate threat. Asbestos removal is a very costly and highly specialized process. That’s why it’s important for first-time home buyers to be sure their home inspector knows what to look for.
A former building materials champion — famed for its ability to fireproof and insulate — asbestos was used for over 30 years in everything from roofing shingles to floor tiles. Common in both commercial and domestic applications, asbestos became a favorite go-to material for pro homebuilders.
But now we know that asbestos causes health problems. Microscopic asbestos fibers can be released into the air and lodge in the lining of the lungs. It happened to asbestos workers and those living in areas where this material was present. This is particularly the case with “friable asbestos,” or asbestos that easily crumbles to a powder in hand, when dry.
In the 1970s, asbestos was found to be carcinogenic, causing mesothelioma and other lung diseases, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Workers and residents of homes that contained friable asbestos were developing lung cancer at higher rates. Those exposed to asbestos were presenting with shortness of breath — sometimes decades after initial exposure. The EPA has since enacted strong regulations limiting the use of asbestos in building materials to help prevent asbestos-related diseases.
If you find asbestos in your home, you may not have to stop everything and remove it immediately. It’s only after being disturbed that asbestos is most dangerous. And exactly how much exposure to asbestos is dangerous really depends on the circumstances and the types of asbestos in question. Loose-fill insulation containing asbestos, were it to fall into your living space, would pose an immediate risk. But undamaged linoleum floor tiles containing asbestos may be considered safe.
Because most older homes are constructed of similar materials, if you suspect asbestos in your home, take a look around your neighborhood first. Are other homes — similar in age to yours — known to harbor asbestos? If so, you may want to contact a professional to help assess the problem. Because the risk of contamination is so great, it’s important that you don’t take any action to disturb the material. Cutting into it releases asbestos into the air where it can enter the lungs.
So, what is made of asbestos in homes? The list is long. Here’s a sample of common household materials that have been known to contain asbestos:
It’s not recommended that you attempt to remove asbestos by yourself. Groups that specialize in asbestos abatement are extensively trained and accredited in protocols known to limit asbestos exposure. Even though the cost of abatement can be high, the dangers of contamination are real — and this is a job best left to the pros. Asbestos removal costs range from $1900 and up for most households.
Currently, federal regulations that limit or outright ban a homeowner from abating asbestos on their own don’t exist. But the United States EPA strongly recommends that you outsource this task to industry professionals (Opens in a new tab). That’s because you can increase the risk of health-related dangers just by working near asbestos. The professionals are going to be using specialized equipment and materials and have the know-how to get the job done correctly.
There are few things more important than getting the protection you need to best safeguard your home. Reach out to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to help you select coverage. They’re your trusted resource who can run a full insurance review, and that can help you understand your coverage requirements more exactly. You’ll feel better with a custom-designed policy that fits your home's needs and your family’s budget.