Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Lead Paint Removal?

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  • Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Lead Paint Removal?

The government banned lead-based paint from residential use in 1978. Homes built before 1978 have a much greater chance of having lead paint. It’s not always easy to tell if you have lead paint, especially if it’s underneath later construction or layers of paint.

The Environmental Protection Agency classified lead as a pollutant with dangerous health effects. The government estimates over 20 million homes still contain lead paint. It isn’t always a problem if managed properly, but you must be mindful.

Federal law regulates how contractors and homeowners must deal with lead paint. Since your homeowners insurance policy covers several hazards that can affect your house, you may wonder if your policy will help you with lead paint removal or lead abatement.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Lead Paint Removal?

No, homeowners insurance most likely won’t cover lead paint removal. Policies typically contain explicit exclusions for lead and lead paint in their coverages.

Homeowners insurance covers your property from a list of potential sources of damage called perils. Some common perils include fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, and theft. They also get into much rarer instances like vehicle damage or damage from riots. But, lead isn’t included in these perils.

An insurance company might cover the removal of lead paint if the removal was part of necessary repairs after a covered loss. For instance, if a room knowingly containing lead paint got destroyed by a tornado, your provider would likely rebuild the room to its pre-loss condition minus the lead paint. But, insurers wouldn’t remove lead paint just because you discovered it in your home. 

Why Doesn’t Homeowners Insurance Cover Lead Paint?

Looking for lead paint isn’t required during 4-point inspections. As a result, the discovery of lead usually takes place after the policy takes effect, and the lead paint usually predates the policy. Insurers don’t usually cover pre-existing conditions in homes. Also, in some states, insurers may require you to remediate the lead paint in your home within a certain number of days after discovery, or they will non-renew your policy.

Additionally, damage from lead paint in the form of lead poisoning may occur over time or may not be discovered until later, which muddies the claim process. Insurance companies tend not to cover forms of gradual damage. They try to deal with sudden, unexpected instances of damage.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage and Lead Paint Claims

Before you file an insurance claim, the damage needs to exceed your deductible. Simply discovering lead paint in your home is not grounds for filing a claim. Additionally, policies also exclude the liability of lead poisoning from insurance coverage.

An insurance company’s objective is typically to restore your damaged property close to how it was before you experienced the damage. Finding lead paint is not a cause of damage, so you can’t normally file a property damage claim for lead paint removal alone. Damage needs to exceed your deductible.

Policies often exclude coverage for lead paint liability claims, too. The ingestion of lead paints is often explicitly excluded in policies. When describing your liability coverage or medical payments coverage, you may find a clause in your plan that reads something like “these coverages do not apply to bodily injury arising out of the ingestion of paint that has lead in it” or “out of the ingestion of paint with lead compounds in it.”

Similarly, many policies exclude the “discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of pollutants” from coverage unless the seepage or dispersal was caused directly by a covered peril. Lead’s classification as a pollutant isn’t always clear. If you’re considering this, ask your provider or agent. 

Another issue with lead poisoning is its effects don’t manifest immediately. By the time you become aware of potential lead poisoning side effects, it could be too late to file a claim. Claims usually need to be filed promptly.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Lead Abatement Activities?

Homeowners insurance likely won’t cover lead abatement activities ordered by the government or done voluntarily. Insurance companies might cover lead abatement if it’s necessary to repair a property, though, if it falls under your coverage limits.

According to the EPA, “lead abatement projects are designed to eliminate lead-based paint hazards permanently. They may be ordered by a state or local government in response to a lead-poisoned child or other reason, or may be undertaken voluntarily at any time.”

Lead abatement is lead paint removal, but related activities often involve specialized lead paint inspections or assessments. These can cost hundreds of dollars, while overall abatement can reach the thousands. Lead abatement activities aren’t typically covered by homeowners insurance.

The EPA requires people and companies who perform abatement projects to be certified and follow specific regulations and guidelines to minimize risk.

Additionally, renovations, repairs, or painting projects designed to minimize or cover up the lead risk but not totally eliminate lead aren’t covered, either. As we mentioned earlier, the only time an insurer may do something about lead in your walls is if your home gets damaged or destroyed and needs to be rebuilt.

If a covered peril destroyed a part of your structure that contained lead, your insurer would probably rebuild it without lead if necessary.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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