Asbestos Liability Insurance

Compare Asbestos Removal Liability Insurance Policies

Thanks to its strength and fireproof properties, asbestos was once a popular material, especially for ceiling insulations and tiles, roofing shingles, patching compounds and even in home appliances.

However, the use of this fibrous silicate was banned after being found to cause serious illnesses, including the cancers mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos also disintegrates with age, polluting air and water with fine particles. Inhaling these is linked to various ailments, including asbestos warts, pleural plaques, pneumothorax and many others.

Asbestos was so widely used that it's still being uncovered all the time, during demolitions and renovations of older buildings. When it is the particles can go airborne.

The material is still found so commonly, and is so hazardous, that many standard business insurance policies will outright exclude cover for anything related to asbestos. If there's a chance of you uncovering asbestos during your work, whether it's because you were just working on an old home or were specifically contracted and trained to remove asbestos, it's worth knowing about asbestos liability insurance, and how you're covered.

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The Dangers of Asbestos to Human Health

Lung cancer

The risk of lung cancer is increased by asbestos exposure. A person who is exposed to the material has a higher chance of developing a small-cell carcinoma and non-small-cell carcinoma. This risk is even greater if the person is a smoker.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis refers to the scarring of the lungs as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres. This is a non-curable disease where airways become so inflamed that oxygen is no longer able to pass from the lungs and into the bloodstream. Breathing becomes progressively more difficult, leading to shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and a dry cough. In the later stages of the disease, a sufferer’s skin tone may take on a bluish hue from the lack of oxygen. This disease is common in former asbestos manufacturing workers and asbestos miners. Symptoms must be treated with ongoing medical attention.

Mesothelioma

Asbestos exposure may lead to cancer of the pleura, also known as mesothelioma. This is a rare cancer that aggressively attacks the membrane that lines each of the body’s cavities. It grows quickly and spreads throughout the body before a patient presents with symptoms. This makes early diagnosis difficult and the survival rate low. Although there are few cases of mesothelioma, only small exposure to asbestos fibre is needed to trigger the cancer.

Pleural disease

The lining of the lung, known as pleural, can become inflamed and irritated as a result of breathing in asbestos particles. This inflammation in turn causes the pleural to thicken and fill with water, leading to shortness of breath and tightness in the chest.

The Importance of Being Covered by an Asbestos Liability Insurance Policy

If you're licensed and qualified to remove or handle asbestos, and plan to make use of those qualifications, then some type of asbestos liability insurance might be worth considering.

Imagine finishing a job and hauling a load of asbestos for disposal, and getting into an accident on the way. You might now be liable for the asbestos on the road, the costs of road closure and debris removal and other consequential damages. If that accident is later tied to asbestos-related health issues among your employees or the public, you might find yourself liable for the costs years later.

Because it relates to asbestos, a standard business liability insurance policy might not cover any of it. But by adding an asbestos liability rider to your policy, or looking for specialised cover, you can be insured for all of those.

Generally, if you haven't specifically sought out the right cover, you can assume that a standard business insurance policy won't cover any damage or loss that's related to asbestos.

What can asbestos liability insurance cover?

The cover available is typically tied to the activities your business and employees are licensed and qualified to carry out. As such, asbestos liability insurance can cover a broad range of situations where a person may be involved either directly or indirectly with asbestos.

For example, if working in asbestos removal you might have cover for activities carried out as part of demolition activities, transporting and disposing of asbestos.

With asbestos liability insurance, you might also be covered in the event of others being exposed to asbestos along the way. For example, if something goes wrong and someone inhales asbestos particles causing health issues, or if someone's property is simply damaged by a falling lump of asbestos.

Cover is also available for tradesmen and professionals who may be indirectly exposed to asbestos, such as roofing contractors, electricians and plumbers who might unintentionally encounter it in their line of work. Since most standard liability policies have an absolute asbestos exclusion clause, a standard policy might not cover it.

This exclusion can also apply to professional indemnity insurance. For example, a building surveyor who inaccurately fails to reports the presence of asbestos in a building would probably not be protected by their standard public indemnity insurance policy, and might be liable for subsequent losses, even including death. But with asbestos liability insurance, their legal fees and compensation costs might be covered up a a certain limit.

Learn more about the different liability insurance plans available in Australia

What industries should consider asbestos cover?

Generally, any business can assume that they aren't covered for anything related to asbestos unless they have specialised cover, and any business that can reasonably expect to handle asbestos, assess buildings for asbestos or otherwise deal with it in any way may want to consider adding a rider for this cover type.

This may include:

  • Roofers that are qualified to remove asbestos.
  • Demolition companies.
  • Building assessors that are responsible for identifying or measuring asbestos levels.
  • Workplace health and safety experts that may be responsible for identifying asbestos.
  • Landlords or building managers that may be unintentionally renting out a building with asbestos, or may have doubts about the accuracy of their assessments.
  • Manufacturers that still use asbestos with any products

Why is asbestos insurance important?

There are several key reasons why asbestos insurance can be so important:

  • Asbestos is still extremely common. Depending on your line of work, you might still be fairly likely to encounter asbestos on a regular basis.
  • Asbestos poses a wide range of severe hazards. In addition to the usual problems associated with transporting materials and carrying out a potentially dangerous job, the uniquely dangerous nature of asbestos means a failure to properly handle it can lead to disaster years later, including cancer, loss of quality of life and death. The potential compensatory expenses often run into the millions per person affected. It can also pose a danger to the environment. A single mishap might financially devastate a company without the appropriate cover.
  • Asbestos is strictly regulated. There are strict regulations around the handling, removal and identification of asbestos, but despite taking all reasonable steps it might still be argued that one did not fulfill their obligations. Asbestos claims may be fraught with litigation, which might be covered by liability cover, but only with the appropriate asbestos insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos Liability Insurance

What diseases qualify for asbestos compensation?

A broad number of diseases and conditions qualify for compensation. These include lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, asbestos-related pleural disease and pleural plaque disease

What type of compensation can be claimed?

A common law compensation claim may include damages for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • Past and future cost of treatment and care
  • Past and future medical expenses.

Who is liable in asbestos compensation claims?

In an asbestos claim, multiple parties may be subject to pay damages for failing to protect a plaintiff from exposure to asbestos. A plaintiff must analyse their employment history with a lawyer to determine who is at fault. A claim may be brought against former employers, even if they have gone out of business, the manufacturer of the asbestos product and those in charge of the site where asbestos was present.

What does asbestos liability insurance provide?

Asbestos liability insurance provides cover for claims relating to asbestos exposure. It is an added protection for insurance claims that are not covered by standard public liability or professional indemnity insurance.

Who is covered by asbestos liability insurance?

Tradesmen or professionals who work directly or indirectly with asbestos are covered by the insurance policy. Tenants and owners of homes where asbestos is present can also apply for damages under asbestos liability insurance.

Who needs asbestos liability insurance?

This policy is very important to tradesmen and professional who work in the asbestos removal. Asbestos liability insurance is useful for those who are at risk of either a direct or indirect exposure to asbestos such as roof contractors, building surveyors, electricians, plumbers and repairmen.

What are the fines and penalties associated with asbestos?

A business that fails to comply with regulation regarding asbestos as outlined by health and safety regulations as well environmental law can face civil penalties of up to $5.5 million.

This policy provides cover for instances where standard liability insurance policies refuse damages because asbestos is involved in the claim. Asbestos liability insurance is very important for those who are direct or indirect risk of asbestos exposure.

Where can I get asbestos liability insurance?

This specialised cover type is usually handled by brokers, who may be able to help you identify the right cover for your needs. You might not be able to find it with a standard business insurance policy.

Fines and Penalties that can Affect your Business

Failure to responsibly address asbestos risks may result in severe fines and penalties under health and safety and environmental protection laws. Non-compliance with health and safety regulations may lead to fines of up to $550,000, while the penalties for environmental damage can be as high as $5.5 million. The cost of compensation to those who have been exposed to asbestos is also very high. Given the gravity of the health risks associated with asbestos exposure, damages awarded in these cases can be in the millions.

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8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    warrenJuly 7, 2017

    I would like to speak with reliability cover for workers. Thanks

    • Staff
      RenchJuly 9, 2017Staff

      Hi Warren,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      You may refer to this page to get a quote for business insurance. Please fill out the form to get in contact with a consultant.

      Hope this information helped.

      Best regards,
      Rench

  2. Default Gravatar
    PETERAugust 8, 2016

    I do an Asbestos Removal job once or twice a month.Very small jobs usually $1000 or less. Do you have a liability insurance that suits me.
    Thanks
    Peter

    • Staff
      RichardAugust 9, 2016Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurance broker. To speak with an adviser about getting liability insurance, please complete the contact form above and a broker will be in touch.

      All the best,
      Richard

  3. Default Gravatar
    frankJanuary 28, 2016

    what does it cost for basic liability insurance for home and shed asbestos removal for registered home maintenance business.

    • Staff
      RichardJanuary 28, 2016Staff

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurer. If you enter your details into the contact form and advisor will be in touch.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  4. Default Gravatar
    ManuelOctober 29, 2015

    Hi,

    I would like to know how much is the cost of asbestos liability insurance for a commercial property that we are going to buy.

    There is a low risk asbestos in the building under control but we are looking for to get this insurance ASAP.

    Could you give me a call urgently because if we can get this insurance maybe we are not going to buy.

    Kind regards,

    Manuel

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