So we all know that asbestos is typically considered a pollutant under most commercial and residential insurance policies. But I make my living on removing asbestos from buildings, usually after it has been deemed “covered” by an insurance adjuster. So when is asbestos abatement covered? If you have followed this blog over the past few months, you probably know by now that coverage on pollution claims can be determined by many factors. When it comes to asbestos abatement coverage, these factors are relatively short and specific.
What caused the asbestos damage? Was it due to deterioration from high humidity over time? If that asbestos pipe insulation is in your damp basement or crawlspace and is falling off due to intrinsic moisture damage, you probably are not covered. The same goes for surface water intrusion damage or asbestos damage due to seepage.
Was the asbestos damaged in a fire? Did your boiler explode? If that boiler ruptured in some manner or if a fire caused damage to the asbestos boiler jacket insulation, you will likely trigger coverage due to “bursting or tearing asunder of the heating system” or because of the fire damage peril of a policy.
Other common triggers of asbestos coverage are flooding due to sewage back up, toilet overflow, pipe breaks and direct physical damage due to tradesman. If a carpenter accidentally ripped up some of your asbestos floor tile or if your washing machine overflowed causing the floor tile to delaminate, you are likely covered.
What if your asbestos pipe insulation was coated with soot after a puff back or if mold grew on it after a pipe break? Most states, including New York State, require the removal of asbestos containing materials by law if any peripheral or associated work might disturb the asbestos. If the asbestos must be cleaned or painted due to soot or mold damage, then the project must be performed as an abatement project, and is subject to all the applicable regulations of N.Y.S.D.O.L. Industrial Code Rule 56. This includes a fully regulated removal project, filing fees, air testing and other costly requirements.
In short, when it comes to insurance coverage for asbestos abatement: If the asbestos damage is sudden and accidental, you are likely covered. If the damage is due to some sort of deterioration over time, chances are you will not be afforded coverage.