How do I make an insurance claim for asbestos?

While it’s no longer used in the UK, asbestos was a popular construction material prior to its ban in 2000. Today, older homes are likely to have asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).

In their undamaged state, ACMs don’t pose a health risk. However, if they’re disturbed or damaged and release asbestos fibres into the air, they become dangerous. Asbestos exposure can lead to serious and life-threatening diseases, which is why it’s so crucial to prevent any exposure incidents in the home.

When an event that’s covered by your homeowner’s insurance results in damage to otherwise safe ACMs, your insurer may cover asbestos remediation to fix the problem.

How do I make an insurance claim for asbestos?

What types of asbestos damage are typically covered by insurance?

While typical home insurance policies in the UK don’t include asbestos removal, there are exceptions.

If asbestos removal is required because an event that’s covered by insurance damaged or disturbed the ACM, then the remediation work may be covered by insurance as well.

For example, if a flood that’s covered by your home insurance policy damaged ACMs and now the ACMs need to be removed, insurance may cover the removal costs because they’re part of the flood damage.

What if a contractor damages asbestos in my home?

Unfortunately, if you have contractors working on your home and they accidentally damage asbestos, remediation is not likely to be covered by insurance. This is because accidental damage caused by alterations, repairs, maintenance, restoration, dismantling, or renovating is generally not covered in your buildings or contents insurance.

However, if the contractor has insurance coverage (and they should), their insurance may cover any damage that occurs, which can include asbestos disturbances.

What should I do before filing a claim?

When you have to submit an insurance claim that includes an asbestos-related incident, here are three things to do first:

Document everything you can. Any and all documents that show asbestos is present and how it was damaged will help your case.

Hire a professional to assess the damage. An asbestos expert will be able to find the full scope of the damage and give you an idea of how much repair or removal will cost.

Review your insurance policy. It’s important to understand the terms of your homeowner’s coverage regarding the type of damage you’re dealing with. Your policy may have specific limitations when it comes to asbestos.

How do I know if my insurance policy covers asbestos removal or remediation?

To determine if your insurance policy covers asbestos remediation, you need to (a) understand the scope of coverage and (b) review it for specific mentions of asbestos.

Typically, the following events are covered by home insurance:

  • Escape of water (leaky plumbing, for example)
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Fire and smoke
  • Flooding
  • Lightning
  • Theft and vandalism

Also, there are some circumstances that are typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance, such as:

  • Aging-related wear and tear
  • Earth movements (earthquakes or earth tremors, for example)
  • Insect or rodent damage
  • Intentional damage
  • Nuclear events
  • Pet damage

If the event is not covered by your insurance, the resulting asbestos damage won’t be covered, either.

If the event is covered by your insurance, the resulting asbestos damage may be covered partially or in full by the insurer.

Thoroughly checking your policy for asbestos details and speaking with your insurer is the best way to determine what’s covered.

What should I expect during the insurance claims process?

While the insurance claims process may vary slightly depending on your insurer, this is a basic overview of what you can expect:

Report the claim to your insurance company.

Do this as soon as possible after the event occurs. However, make sure that you’ve gathered information and documentation, as the insurance company will ask you for details over the phone.

Make sure to include information about the asbestos removal work that’s required. You don’t want to wait to notify the insurance company of the asbestos situation. If you don’t tell them about the asbestos damage from the start, they’re less likely to include it in the claim if you try to add it later.

You’ll be assigned a claims adjuster.

The insurance company will appoint someone to your case. The adjuster will investigate the issue. That can include looking at medical records, taking statements from witnesses, or assessing the damage to your home.

Regarding asbestos removal, if the insurance company decides it’s a legitimate request, they may appoint a licensed asbestos worker to assess your home.

Evaluation of your claim versus your policy.

Next, the adjuster will look into your claim based on your home insurance coverage. Details like deductibles, exclusions and limitations will be considered, which may or may not include specifics about asbestos damage.

Provide support documentation.

At this point, the adjuster may ask for additional documentation to support your claim. For example, you may need to provide receipts for items that were damaged or estimates for repair costs.

The adjuster makes a decision.

Once the investigation and evaluation steps are finished, the adjuster will decide whether or not to approve your claim.

If the claim is approved, the insurer will provide payment to cover damages or losses. Regarding asbestos removal, the insurance company may opt to hire their own removal experts.

On the other hand, if the claim is denied or you feel you should get more from the settlement offer, you can appeal the insurance company’s decision.

Submit an appeal.

If you decide to appeal the insurer’s decision, you’ll ask for a review from someone in a higher position at the insurance company. It will help your case if you’re able to provide additional documentation or information about why you feel your claim should be accepted.

The claim is closed.

Once you and the insurance company have resolved the claim and you’ve received the payments you’re owed, the company will officially close the claim.

What are my responsibilities when I officially file an asbestos-related claim with my insurance company?

In addition to the general claims process you can expect, it’s helpful to know how you can help your case and what you’re responsible for along the way.

Review your insurance coverage.

Carefully read through and examine your insurance policy. It’s important for you to know what’s covered and any asbestos-related exclusions that could impact your claim. This way, if the insurance company tells you something that isn’t verified by the policy, you’ll know what to argue in response.

Document the state of the asbestos.

Don’t damage or disturb the ACMs in any way. However, you do want to document the state of the ACM. For example, take photographs of it and make notes about its location and condition. You may also want to hire your own asbestos inspector to assess the situation. They can provide details about the asbestos that you don’t have the experience to discover yourself.

Get an assessment and quotes from a removal expert.

A licensed asbestos worker will be able to assess the situation and suggest responsible remediation measures. They can also provide you a quote for the work, which will be helpful to provide to the insurer as they’re deciding which costs to cover.

Fully complete the claims forms.

It’s important to thoroughly fill out the insurance claims forms and provide as much information as possible to the insurance company. Attach all of the documentation you’re asked for and that you have, including expert reports, price quotes, photographs, etc.

Keep records of all your communications with the insurer.

Any time you communicate with the insurance company, keep a record of it. Take notes during phone calls, save email correspondence and get transcripts of online chats.

Follow up with the insurance company.

If you don’t hear from the insurance company after a reasonable amount of time, don’t hesitate to follow up about your claim. Staying in regular contact may be the only way to monitor your claim’s progress. This also allows you to proactively resolve issues as they arise instead of waiting to hear from the insurer.

Carefully review the offer from the insurance company.

Instead of simply accepting whatever the insurance company offers you, review it to ensure you’re getting the coverage you expect. In terms of asbestos removal, every aspect should be covered, from the initial removal work to safe disposal.

Ask for legal help.

If your claim is denied or the asbestos removal isn’t covered and you feel it should be, you’ll have to submit an appeal. At this point, you may want to speak with a legal expert with expertise in insurance claims.

Final thoughts

Understanding your homeowner’s insurance and how it relates to asbestos removal is necessary to keep you and your family safe. By properly preparing a claim, staying diligent throughout the process and getting legal help if needed, you may be able to have asbestos remediation costs covered by your insurer. To speak with an asbestos expert, contact us today.

How do I make an insurance claim for asbestos? 1

Written by Jess Scott

Jess Scott has been an all-round asbestos consultant since 1996. That’s nearly 3 decades of asbestos knowledge. He spends his time sharing that knowledge with the team at Oracle and with their clients. Jess's goal is, and always has been, to use my expertise in helping people to comply with the law. This legal compliance ultimately helps to protect everyone from the harmful effects of asbestos. Jess has acted as an asbestos expert witness in legal cases and is involved in many asbestos educational activities throughout the UK.