Does home insurance cover asbestos removal?

Does home insurance cover asbestos removal?

Some aspiring home buyers have a preference for older homes, favouring the charming period style of construction over modern architecture. Buying an old home, however, comes with certain risks, one of which is the use of asbestos in building materials.

Although the Australian government completely banned the sale and use or reuse of asbestos-based building materials in 2003, it is possible that any home built prior to that may contain asbestos as a fireproofing or insulating material, particularly in ceilings and wall claddings. While you should certainly avoid exposing yourself to asbestos or asbestos dust, if the material is not damaged or open to the air, it may not pose any danger. You should, however, consider working out the spots where asbestos may have been used in your home if only to ensure nobody in your family comes into contact with it.

Why is asbestos removal not included in my home insurance policy?

Australian insurers usually don’t include asbestos removal in their policies for the simple reason that they may face a huge number of fairly high-value insurance claims. The use of asbestos in housing materials goes back a hundred years in Australia, and an estimated one-third of Australian homes contain some amount of asbestos. Not only could asbestos removal work in all these homes be a big expense it would also likely drive up home insurance costs as the insurers would struggle to settle all the claims. In the event you need to remove the asbestos-containing material, your home insurance policy will generally not cover the cost of necessary repairs or rebuilding.

If you buy a house that is likely to contain asbestos, consider discussing this fact with your insurer when buying a home insurance policy. You may be able to claim a settlement if the removal of asbestos is a necessary part of repairing your home after a disaster. For instance, hail damage can cause asbestos contained in roofing insulation to crumble easily and release fibres which pose health risks if breathed in. If your home insurance policy covers hail damage to your roof, you may be able to get the insurance provider to cover the cost of asbestos removal.

Am I at risk if I can’t pay for asbestos removal?

Buying an old home, particularly one that hasn’t been well maintained, can involve a number of complications. While asbestos may not be the most immediate threat, it’s important to consider getting a licensed expert to assess the amount of asbestos present in your home as this can help you fine-tune your insurance policy. It can also assist with guiding any renovation you may be planning.

It could also allow you to better understand what activities or incidents are likely to release asbestos fibres, and what you need to do if this happens. When you discuss your home insurance policy, you can ask the insurer about circumstances in which asbestos removal may be covered. Consider reading their Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand these circumstances more completely.

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause lung damage, but the asbestos material needs to become friable, or easy to break down, in order to release fibres. Unfortunately, you may not see symptoms of asbestos exposure for a long time, which means pinpointing the cause isn’t easy either. Since you may not want to undertake asbestos removal unless absolutely necessary, taking precautions to ensure you don’t accidentally damage asbestos-containing materials is the safe bet. Again, even if your insurer does cover asbestos removal as part of the claim settlement for a covered incident, they may not cover any related health issues. 

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Learn more about home insurance

Does home insurance cover asbestos removal?

If you’ve inherited or purchased an old home, the house may have been built using asbestos. While it may not cause harm in sealed walls or ceilings, exposure to loose asbestos dust can cause serious health issues. Although the Australian government completely banned using asbestos-based building materials in 2003, houses built earlier may also have asbestos in the cladding or the ceiling for insulating and fireproofing.

Many home insurance policies do not cover asbestos removal. However, in some circumstances, insurers may still pay for its removal. For example, hail storms or falling trees can damage the roof or the walls of your home, causing the asbestos to become more likely to release fibres. If your home insurance covers hail storms or tree damage, your insurer may pay for asbestos removal. Having said that, a better option is to check with an insurance company to see if they cover asbestos removal before purchasing their home insurance policy.

In general, when living in an old home, you need to take precautions to make sure you don’t accidentally cause asbestos materials to crumble. You should also plan for regular maintenance to prevent wear and tear to any areas containing asbestos.

Does home insurance cover accidental damage?

Home insurance offers cover for any damage to your house and most policies cover the main building, garage, permanent attachments, and other external buildings that can be locked. 

Every insurance policy lists the defined events that will be covered, such as fires, floods, lightning strikes, theft, or falling trees. A few may also offer the option of accidental damage home insurance cover for other possible mishaps and unintentional damage around the home, such as when the dog knocks over the TV, or when red wine is spilled on the carpet.

The home insurance accidental damage cover is available only for the address provided at the time of buying the policy. 

Does home insurance cover termite damage?

It is unlikely that the average home insurance policy will cover damage caused by termites, mice, or other vermin, which are typically the result of negligence. For instance, water may have seeped from a heater or washing machine and dampened the woodwork in your home, attracting termites. Since termites usually build colonies, you’ll need to deal with the existing infestation and also take preventative steps to prevent future termite damage.

Treating your home for termite damage can be quite expensive, and you’ll likely have to make significant repairs depending on the size of the infestation. You may want to check if your neighbours have also had termite damage issues, and consider taking more long-term measures to keep termites away.  For example, you could install a chemically-treated soil barrier or baiting station, both of which may be effective for a few years. 

Consider inspecting your home  for any leakage or seepage from time to time, especially in the flooring or the outer edges of your home, as a precaution against damage by vermin. You may also want to consider hiring a pest control professional who can inspect and treat your home to protect against termites.

Does homeowners insurance cover blown-down fences?

Most insurers consider fences a permanent fixture on your property. They are ranked alongside your home, garages or sheds, swimming pools, and solar panels when it comes to your home insurance policy. Your policy, therefore, covers your fences for the same incidents that cover your home or other parts of your property. For example, if there’s a major storm in your area and fences get blown down, you can get your insurer to pay for the cost of repairing the fence. You can check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to confirm that your policy covers the incident before filing a claim. Also, if the fence that has been damaged or blown down divides your property from your neighbour’s, you both may file a shared fence damage claim with your respective insurers. 

You should remember that there may be situations when your home insurance policy doesn’t cover damage to the fences on your property. Suppose you were working on or near the fence and cause some sort of damage to it you may not be able to claim compensation in this case.  Wear and tear on a wooden fence from water-logging near the fence, can be considered negligence on your part and your insurer may deny your claim.

Does homeowners insurance cover structural damage?

The most common causes of structural damage to a property include foundation issues such as settling or ground shifting, hidden structural damage, such as caused by termites, or weather-related damage, like by a tornado or hurricane.

If you’re wondering if structural damage is covered by homeowners insurance, you’re probably not going to like the answer. Most insurance providers don’t include structural damage in home insurance policies because they build the polices to offer protection from loss due to sudden, accidental events, such as fire, burglary or weather-related damage. It can take months or even years for you to discover most foundational or structural damage to your property, and by that time, they become rather costly to repair.

Since it takes a long time to detect, most structural damage is considered a maintenance issue and therefore, your home insurance policy won’t cover it. However, all is not lost. Once you locate the damage and take the necessary steps to not only repair it but also prevent further harm, your insurance policy might cover any subsequent loss. For example, if the foundation has cracks, and it lets water into your home, the water damage could be covered by insurance, but the cracks themselves would not be.

Does home insurance cover rising damp?

If you spot mould formation on the walls of your home, the cause could likely be rising damp. As a homeowner, you are expected to monitor your home for rising damp and the resulting mould damage. If you do have rising damp in your home, the renovation of your walls can cost you thousands of dollars. Worse, most home insurance policies won’t cover you for such repairs, as mould damage is considered gradual damage arising from negligence or poor maintenance. 

In most cases, rising damp is a structural issue which occurs when the damp proof course (DPC) installed in your home is damaged or rendered inadequate. For instance, a broken or leaking storm pipe may result in water accumulating below the floor of your home, causing damp to rise through the walls. Equally, the sub-floor area or the DPC may be obstructed or damaged, for instance, by a concrete slab. 

You will need to hire experts to locate the exact problem and make the necessary repairs. Again, the issue causing rising damp can also result in other problems such as termite damage, which means you may need to act quickly. Remember, your home insurance will likely not cover termite damage either.   

Is my home insurance covered for weather damage?

It is important to understand what is covered and what isn't covered in your home insurance policy before purchasing it. One crucial point to consider at the time of evaluating home insurance policies is whether it includes home insurance weather damage cover, and what it actually means if it does.

Typically, the protection afforded by home insurance actually depends on how the home was damaged or affected by conditions. The whole idea behind home insurance is to protect you from loss or damage against an unexpected, sudden event, like a fire or storm. If your home was in the way of a storm and your roof was damaged, which also caused internal water destruction, you may be covered for the damage to the roof and the property. The same holds true for walls or a fence that got damaged in a storm or flood.

However, you may not be covered if the damage occurred because your property was not well maintained and your home suffered a leak. A poorly maintained fence is less likely to be covered by home insurance.

Does home insurance cover tree root damage?

While trees can add much beauty to your property, they can be an indirect cause of damage to your home. For instance, a storm could knock branches off trees on to your roof or windows. A really strong storm may even cause the tree to topple entirely. 

Home insurance may not directly cover tree damage to your house. However, the policy will likely cover the incident, such as a storm, which resulted in branches or uprooted trees falling on your home. You can check your home insurance policy’s coverage for various incidents by reading the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

You should remember that trees can require regular maintenance, just like the plumbing in our homes. Insurers may check whether the tree, its roots or its branches were rotting due to a lack of care, in which case the damage caused by the tree falling on your home may not be considered accidental damage. Again, if a branch falls on your house while you’re trimming it, you may not be able to claim compensation from your insurer for the damage. If any trees are growing too close to the walls of your home, consider checking that none of the branches or roots is causing any stress to your home, which can result in structural damage.

Do I need home insurance for a home loan?

While home insurance isn’t necessarily a requirement for a home purchase per se, it’s likely that if you’re purchasing a home with the help of a home loan, you’ll need to take out home insurance on the property. Home insurance can be one of the factors required in the pre-settlement documentation for a home purchase, and you may be advised by either the bank or a broker (or both) ahead of settlement.  

What is a home insurance premium?

Your home insurance premium is what you pay your insurance provider for covering your home under their home insurance policy. It is calculated based on the type of coverage you choose for your home as well as any additional coverage you buy for either your possessions or specific incidents. Your premium can either be paid annually or in smaller instalments. 

Your home insurance policy may cover the total replacement cost, which is the actual expense of rebuilding your home from scratch. Alternatively, it can cover an insured sum, which is a predetermined estimate of what it might cost to rebuild your home. You’re more likely to pay a higher premium for total replacement cover than for insured sum coverage.

Apart from selecting your coverage, you’ll have to figure out your excess, which is the amount you pay out of your own pocket for each insurance claim. If you are okay with paying a higher excess, your insurance premium may be lower. Conversely, if you choose a lower excess, you may pay a higher premium. 

Your insurance premium can also be higher if you live in an area prone to incidents like floods, bushfires, or theft, as insurers are more likely to receive a higher number of claims in such neighbourhoods. 

If you also want to buy insurance for your belongings, a combined home and contents insurance policy may have a lower premium than paying premiums on separate policies for your home and your belongings. 

Does homeowner’s insurance cover electrical problems?

Every home has a range of electrical fittings,appliances and wiring running through the structure of the house. You can face many kinds of electrical problems but, unfortunately, your home insurance policy may not cover all of them. Damage accidentally caused by natural accidents may be covered, as might the repair of motors if you have opted for fusion damage cover. For example, if there’s a lightning storm and your home suffers a power surge which causes a short circuit, any repairs needed may be covered if your homeowner’s insurance contains lightning damage.

However, if any electrical appliances stop working, even a home and contents insurance policy may not cover the cost of repairing the appliance. Also, you should check with your insurer about making any electrical repairs inside your home as that may affect your coverage. 

Usually, in Australia, you need to hire a professional electrician to carry out any inspections or repairs to the electrical system in your home. This can include conducting periodic checks to make sure the electrical wirings are not exposed to seepage, flooding, or attacks by rodents. Consider asking your insurance provider about optional coverage for fixed electrical appliances such as air-conditioners and washing machines.  

Does home insurance cover tenant damage?

If you have a property that you rent out to tenants, you may ask, does home insurance cover tenant damage? Generally, as a landlord, you’ll require a different type of insurance policy than a regular home and contents insurance that offers coverage for the unique situations faced by landlords.

Landlord insurance

As a landlord, you must insure against additional risks to protect your investment. A landlord home and contents insurance policy covers loss due to natural disasters, storm, and fire. Generally, it also covers fixtures like stovetops, light fittings, window coverings, carpets, and ovens.

Additionally, you may protect yourself against any loss arising due to damage to your property caused by your tenants or their guests. Some landlord insurance policies may also protect you against financial loss due to unpaid rent.

Does homeowners insurance cover tenant damage? In most cases, regular homeowners’ insurance policy will not cover such damage. It’s always best to refer to the product disclosure statement (PDS) to clearly understand what is included and excluded from your home insurance policy.

Does home insurance cover temporary accommodation?

Seeing your home damaged by a natural disaster such as a bushfire or a hail storm can be traumatic. Unfortunately, sometimes your house may become uninhabitable after such an incident and require major renovation or even rebuilding. In such circumstances, your home insurance policy should cover the cost of temporary or emergency accommodation. 

It's worth checking with your insurer on the coverage limit, as different insurance providers may cover the cost of renting another home for a number of months, though this will vary between coverage cost and insurance provider. However, the maximum coverage will probably run for 12 months. Upon filing a claim, most insurers will likely first ask an inspector to confirm that your home is too damaged to live in, and subsequently cover the cost of temporary accommodation after that. 

You could also need temporary accommodation because the local council or other governing authority may order an evacuation in anticipation of a problem or disaster. In that instance, you should check if your insurance provider will cover the cost of accommodation at such a time and, if so, how you can file a claim in such cases. If you are a pet owner, check if your home insurance policy covers the cost of temporarily housing your pets elsewhere.

What does home insurance cover?

What home insurance specifically covers and the extent of the coverage depends on the insurance provider and the individual policy. However, home insurance typically covers the property and other permanent structures found on or in the property, such as fences, in-ground swimming pools, garages, and dishwashers, to name a few.

There are usually two types of homeowner's insurance you can choose from, with "total replacement cover" or "sum-insured cover". 

If you’re not sure which option to take, it may be worthwhile to speak to a professional valuer to understand how much it might cost to rebuild your home and replace what's inside.