Find out whether your home insurance policy covers you for the removal of asbestos and what you can do if you find any
Asbestos is a fibre that was widely used in the construction industry for things like building insulation, floor tiles and roofing.
It was banned from being used in the UK in 1999, but homes built before then may still have asbestos in them.
Left alone and intact, asbestos isn’t considered harmful.
If it becomes damaged or disturbed, fibres are released into the air. Breathing in these fibres can lead to serious health issues including asbestosis, a progressive lung disease, and certain cancers such as lung and larynx cancer.
It’s also the cause of a particularly aggressive cancer called mesothelioma which affects the lining of the lungs and the lower digestive tract.
Home insurance policies won’t usually cover the cost of removing asbestos from your home.
However, if asbestos is discovered, damaged or disturbed by an event that your policy covers - a fire or flood, for example - your insurer may pay for it to be safely removed as a part of the claim.
You may come across asbestos in your home, garage or outbuildings if you’re doing DIY work or renovations.
It can be a highly dangerous material in the wrong hands, so it’s best you don’t remove or repair it yourself.
If you’ve damaged asbestos during DIY or decorating work, don’t try to vacuum it up as this can cause the fibres to spread widely through the air.
Contact the environmental health officer at your local authority. They can put you in touch with a specialist contractor registered with The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA), who will then safely remove and dispose of it responsibly at a licensed hazardous landfill site.
Some people attempt to remove asbestos themselves but, if you’re not trained in its proper removal, it’s not recommended. Without proper handling, you’re likely to release dangerous fibres into the air putting you and those around you at risk.
Asbestos removal is a specialist skilled service, so it won’t come cheap. But you can rest-assured that the job will be done safely and securely, meaning you’re not put at any risk.
Prices will of course vary according to where you live and how much asbestos needs to be removed.
A professional asbestos survey could cost upwards of around £250. It can determine if you have asbestos in your property and the associated risks of it. In some cases, it’s safer to leave asbestos undisturbed or to have it repaired and made safe rather than to remove it.
An asbestos removal specialist could charge from around £10 per square metre for ‘encapsulation’. This is where an adhesive is applied to the asbestos to protect it and to prevent harmful fibres from being released.
Removal and disposal of asbestos material costs anything from around £40 to £60 per square metre.
If the asbestos found in your home is found to be in good condition - undamaged and in an area that’s unlikely to be disturbed - it can be left alone. As long as it’s not releasing any fibres into the air, it’s generally considered safe.
If you’re considering any building work, you’ll need to inform tradesmen about the asbestos.
You should also arrange for removal of the asbestos if you’re doing any DIY work. This could be anything that involves drilling or hammering holes into walls. Even hanging shelves or a picture can disturb or damage asbestos, making it unsafe.
Asbestos was a popular building material because it was cost-effective and had excellent insulation and fire-resistant properties.
It was used throughout home building including in:
Any property or extension built before 2000 could contain some type of asbestos.
It was used predominantly between 1950 and 1990.
If you suspect you may have asbestos in your home or garage, or have identified what you think is asbestos, you can get a professional asbestos surveyor to visit your home to find out for sure.