Jump to content

Uninsurability of asbestos cement siding


Chris Bernhardt
 Share

Recommended Posts

I got a call from a client telling me her insurance company won't insure her house because it has asbestos cement siding.

Is this old news, new news?

I know that you can have trouble getting insurance when the home has knob & tube wiring, but I have not heard of refusals to insure because a home has asbestos siding or popcorn ceilings, or vermiculite etc.

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't heard of that either, and if true the insurance company doesn't know its butt from a hole in the ground. That stuff is very, very durable unless you whack it. Do they think she's going to be affected by anything the siding is doing outside? [:-dunce]

Brian G.

Pronouncements From Morons [:-boggled

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, this is a "new" thing. Insurers are being told by their underwriters to simply not touch anything with asbestos.

As soon as you "touch" it, you're in the ring for class action inclusion.

Flooring installers are being told to not cover asbestos tile. Vinyl siding folks are being told they can't install siding over it. Etcetera......

It's the new wave of stupidity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

I got a call from a client telling me her insurance company won't insure her house because it has asbestos cement siding.

Is this old news, new news?

I know that you can have trouble getting insurance when the home has knob & tube wiring, but I have not heard of refusals to insure because a home has asbestos siding or popcorn ceilings, or vermiculite etc.

Chris, Oregon

My insurance guy explained it to me this way: It's got nothing to do with the asbestos or the danger that the asbestos does or doesn't represent. It's got everything to do with minimizing the risk associated with insuring older housing stock. By refusing to insure homes with asbestos, fuses, galvanized water pipes, etc, the insurance company decreases the mean age of the housing stock that it's insuring. Newer homes have fewer insurance claims.

He also said that the restrictions change from month to month. If a national insurance company is having a slow month, they'll lift some of the restrictions to bring in more business. If they have enough business, they'll enact a few more restrictions to lessen their risk.

It's just math. It has nothing to do with the actual risk of any particular house, but rather with the aggregate risk of many houses.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My insurance guy explained it to me this way: It's got nothing to do with the asbestos or the danger that the asbestos does or doesn't represent. It's got everything to do with minimizing the risk associated with insuring older housing stock. By refusing to insure homes with asbestos, fuses, galvanized water pipes, etc, the insurance company decreases the mean age of the housing stock that it's insuring. Newer homes have fewer insurance claims.

He also said that the restrictions change from month to month. If a national insurance company is having a slow month, they'll lift some of the restrictions to bring in more business. If they have enough business, they'll enact a few more restrictions to lessen their risk.

It's just math. It has nothing to do with the actual risk of any particular house, but rather with the aggregate risk of many houses.

Jim,

What do you do? Do you make mention of this in the report?

What risk does an HI have for not mentioning that a client may not be able to now or in the future obtain insurance coverage or that said coverage cost could skyrocket?

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Jim,

What do you do? Do you make mention of this in the report?

What risk does an HI have for not mentioning that a client may not be able to now or in the future obtain insurance coverage or that said coverage cost could skyrocket?

Chris, Oregon

I don't mention it in the report because the restriction seems to come & go and it's not uniform from one insurance company to the next. I'd go nuts trying to figure out who's restricting what each month.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris,

We identify it as a mineral base, cement based, etc. If we don't test it, then we don't report it as asbestos containing. My question is how did the homeowner know it was asbestos? Was it tested and identified as friable?

Jim K posted the reasons for not insuring. acturarial.

My experience has shown that all older cement based shingles do not contain asbestos. Several samples submitted to the lab have contained very minute amounts and we have never had it come back as friable.

Bottom line: We report nothing unless we can prove it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

My insurance guy explained it to me this way: It's got nothing to do with the asbestos or the danger that the asbestos does or doesn't represent. It's got everything to do with minimizing the risk associated with insuring older housing stock. By refusing to insure homes with asbestos, fuses, galvanized water pipes, etc, the insurance company decreases the mean age of the housing stock that it's insuring. Newer homes have fewer insurance claims.

He also said that the restrictions change from month to month. If a national insurance company is having a slow month, they'll lift some of the restrictions to bring in more business. If they have enough business, they'll enact a few more restrictions to lessen their risk.

It's just math. It has nothing to do with the actual risk of any particular house, but rather with the aggregate risk of many houses.

Jim,

What do you do? Do you make mention of this in the report?

What risk does an HI have for not mentioning that a client may not be able to now or in the future obtain insurance coverage or that said coverage cost could skyrocket?

Chris, Oregon

Just tell the truth; it's fiber-cement siding. That's an absolutely true statement and more accurate than calling it asbestos-cement siding if you don't actually know for a fact that it is. GAF makes a whole menu of siding products that are identical to the asbestos fiber shingles; put the two side-by-side and you can't tell the difference (Unless you grind it up, snort it, and wait 25 years to see if it will matasticize - nyuk, nyuk.)

OT - OF!!!

M.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just tell the truth; it's fiber-cement siding. That's an absolutely true statement and more accurate than calling it asbestos-cement siding if you don't actually know for a fact that it is. GAF makes a whole menu of siding products that are identical to the asbestos fiber shingles; put the two side-by-side and you can't tell the difference (Unless you grind it up, snort it, and wait 25 years to see if it will matasticize - nyuk, nyuk.)

Ok, but does that mean you would not report the presence of LP siding when you're sure it's LP or do you describe it with some generic term like wood composition siding?

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

Well, that depends on whether it's L-P siding or Innerseal. If it's Innerseal, which was the subject of a class action lawsuit and is readily identifiable, I report it as Innerseal. If it's just L-P OSB clapboard or panel siding that's what I say - Oriented Strand Board (OSB) Clapboard Siding or Oriented Strand Board (OSB) Panel Siding. Name any brand of Asbestos siding that's been involved in a class-action lawsuit. Once I know about it, and someone provides me a way to readily and positively identify it, I'll write it as that.

I've said it here dozens of times; I think this whole asbestos thing is more overblown than the mold is gold thing. Every single time you drive through a dry cloud of dust driving down any street anywhere on this planet you'll be exposed to friable asbestos; the fibers are ubiquitous in the air around us. If asbestos is such a killer, how come kids in their mid-twenties, who've been exposed to the stuff their entire lives, don't come down with mesothelioma or asbestosis?

I think the odds of you getting cancer from radon or secondhand smoke are probably better than getting it from asbestos - and then there's the fiber-cement siding. The fibers are literally bound to the cement and silica sand in the shingles; how could they possibly harm you? I'd be more worried about the stuff sloughing off the insulation wafers in my wife's blow dryer than I would from this siding. There's a whole section of the town of Everett that's contaminated with asbestos and nobody is allowed to build there. Yet, you don't hear about lifelong residents of the neighborhoods that border that area dropping like flies after living there 25 to 30 years; why the hell is that?

My father recently died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 81. He spent nearly 60 years building homes and in the early part of his building career he was routinely exposed to friable asbestos in hundreds of forms - and he unknowingly exposed all of us kids to it by having us work for him. He also used to smoke 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day. When he got sick they scanned him every way possible and found that his lungs were very very clear.

I'm not saying asbestos can't make folks sick; I'm saying that it doesn't make everyone who's exposed to it sick, any more than peanuts kill everyone that eats them or bees kill everyone they sting.

Let me suggest that there is no such thing as the bogeyman.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think an HI would be in deeper poop if he started going around telling people how to interact with their insurance companies.

Ok, but...

How many of us mention the insurance issues with respect to K&T wiring?

How is not commenting on the insurability different than not recommending a sewer scope arbitrariliy on older housing stock?

Who of us would not bring it up if it was our own mother, daughter or son buying a house?

I know it's not within the scope of a home inspection but in the interest of giving good advice and providing adequate warning and given that HI's are expected to know a lot about houses (including toxic issues in home ownership) it seems like the right thing to do.... but I could be wrong.

I don't see this any different than advising someone to use the right gasoline in their car if they don't want to mess up the engine which you just inspected.

If we don't warn people of things ("housey things") that they may not know, which we know, which could have a significant negative affect on them, then we are no different than those greedy bastards and idiot political leaders that have crashed wallstreet.

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would direct the blame to their real estate agent for not telling them that they might have trouble getting insurance coverage. Unless they paid cash for the house, they can't close on it without insurance coverage. Their agent should have told them that with an old home they might have trouble getting coverage. The real estate agents are suppose to be the experts when it comes to the selling of a home, they should know about this! [:-eyebrow

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The real estate agents are suppose to be the experts when it comes to the selling of a home, they should know about this!

If Kurt is right, and I believe he is, we'll soon see significant changes in what society expects from realtors and what they expect from HI's.

I think that HI's will be increasingly looked to for advice on everything "housey".

In an alternate universe maybe realtors don't even exist.

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, it's a parallel universe, and it already exists. While hotly disputed by realtors, the internet makes them entirely unnecessary.

That is, if the MLS was open to the public, and if sellers and buyers were mature enough to negotiate their own deals, which often isn't the case.

The mature and responsible FSBO deals I'm inspecting for are always models of efficiency and honest dealing. Remove the realtors, and one removes the largest confusion in the process.

Apologies to those responsible agents out there trying to do the right thing. They're hobbled and penalized by the current sales model. The entire paradigm should be turned upside down.

To quote one of my customers.....

"Screw the realtors. Give me a good lawyer and an excellent home inspector, and I'll handle the rest."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

I think an HI would be in deeper poop if he started going around telling people how to interact with their insurance companies.

Ok, but...

How many of us mention the insurance issues with respect to K&T wiring?

Don't go by me, but I never did. The way I figured, I was going to tell 'em to rip it out anyway, so why write/utter words about insurance? I'm not an insurance man, so I stayed away from insurance calls.id="blue">

How is not commenting on the insurability different than not recommending a sewer scope arbitrariliy on older housing stock?

My thought: Suggesting sewer scoping is altogether within the realm of HI work, and a dang good butt-covering device. But I'm not qualified to get into insurancey stuff...id="blue">

Who of us would not bring it up if it was our own mother, daughter or son buying a house?

I know it's not within the scope of a home inspection but in the interest of giving good advice and providing adequate warning and given that HI's are expected to know a lot about houses (including toxic issues in home ownership) it seems like the right thing to do.... but I could be wrong.

I don't see this any different than advising someone to use the right gasoline in their car if they don't want to mess up the engine which you just inspected.

If we don't warn people of things ("housey things") that they may not know, which we know, which could have a significant negative affect on them, then we are no different than those greedy bastards and idiot political leaders that have crashed wallstreet.

You make a good point, but I think you'd be sticking your neck out, at least a little. As for whether or not an HI should disclose anything he'd tell his mama, I think the blood-thicker-than-water thing takes precedence. Speaking just for myself, I might say/write something like: "Check with your insurance company about the giant Kryptonite outcropping..."

WJid="blue">

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...