What you need to know
Asbestos is super bad and can cause cancer - you should try to avoid it.
Heaps of older Aussie buildings have asbestos in them, which can be a problem when renovating.
Unfortunately, most home insurance policies will not cover damages or liability related to asbestos.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a material which was used widely in building and manufacturing before the 1980s. While asbestos was considered affordable and durable decades ago, we now know that direct exposure to asbestos is very dangerous. Several types of cancer have been linked to asbestos exposure, as well as other diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
The good news is asbestos was thankfully banned in Australia in 2003. The bad news is it's still present in a tonne of older homes and buildings. That causes issues for home renos, as well as for home insurance.
If you reckon you've got asbestos in your home, don't immediate flip. As long as it's left undisturbed, asbestos is relatively harmless. However, if you have a home which was built before 1990 or are thinking about buying a home from that period, you should get an asbestos survey from a licensed assessor. It may even be a government requirement before any renovation or demolition.
The survey will help you identify if asbestos is there and the condition it's in, as well as offering guidance on how to manage the risk. If you're uncertain whether certain products in your home contain asbestos, you should always treat them as if they do. That basically means leave them alone, unless you're getting it properly removed.
On the subject of removal - safely removing asbestos is complicated and highly regulated. You'll need to get a licensed builder in to do the work and dispose of it legally. There are massive penalties if you skip this step. Also there's that risk of cancer we talked about.
Asbestos is in around one third of Aussie homes. If insurance companies paid for asbestos removal in all of them, premiums would skyrocket. So instead, insurance companies generally rule out any asbestos-related costs.
There is one exception to this. If part of your home needs to be repaired due to a different claim that has been accepted, your insurance company should cover the proper removal of this asbestos. However, they'll only remove the asbestos from the area of the home that needs repairs.
Does that mean home insurance isn't worth it? Well, no. Home insurance still covers a tonne of useful stuff, including flood, fire and storm damage. Asbestos isn't the only thing threatening your place. Compare home insurance for free here.
You pay the same as buying directly from the home insurer. Better still, we regularly run exclusive deals that you won't find on any other site – plus, our tables make it easy to compare policies.
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