Insurance and House Repairs After Flooding, Meth Contamination or Asbestos: Who Pays?

Almost every home owner in NZ has house insurance. It’s vital in case of fire, earthquake, and the occasional broken window. But does insurance come to the party if your home was flooded, had meth contamination, or you find asbestos?

The caveat before anything else is discussed, is that every insurance policy is different. Each policy, each insurer, and each situation is different. Always call your insurer to find out—there is no charge or loss for asking.

Does your insurance policy cover asbestos repairs?

In general, the answer is no. Unless there is a specific inclusion, asbestos will not be covered by your insurer, nor any liability that arises directly, or indirectly, from the presence of asbestos in any form.

This means you need to be thorough in your builders report and pre-purchase inspection of your home. If there is asbestos in the home, you should account for that in the offer price. Ensure you have enough money to cover removal and remediation of asbestos.

If your builder comes and tells you, halfway through a renovation, that they found asbestos… that’s all on you, unfortunately.

Does your insurance policy cover meth decontamination?

Unless you have specialised cover, the answer is no. When meth first started becoming a problem, policies covered the cleaning process, but over the past five years, rules have been getting stricter.

Now, for most standard policies, there is no cover for methamphetamine decontamination. However, there are some landlord- specific options or bolt-on additions that cover methamphetamine decontamination up to a certain amount. This could be up to NZ$30,000, depending on the policy.

There are also a lot of limitations around who causes the contamination, when the contamination occurred, and generally there is a large excess charge. Landlords can also be denied cover if they don’t meet certain obligations, such as regular checks throughout and between tenancies.

Let the buyer beware; get your house tested before making an offer, and factor in the cost of remediation in the buy price. If you need meth testing, TechClean offer this service in Christchurch, Wellington, Nelson and Marlborough.

Does your insurance policy cover flooding repairs?

Sort of. If you have a home insurance policy, flooding is covered under the EQC cover. This means that repairs, replacement and cleaning up following a flood will likely be covered by EQC in the first instance, and when repairs go over-cap that your insurer will step in. 

EQC covers your residential land, the house, landscaping remediation and cleaning costs. Replacement of furniture will be from your insurer.

Does your insurance policy cover water damage?

Most insurers will cover damage caused by a slow leak. If the damage is hidden from view, so it was contained within floors, walls or the ceiling and you were unable to see it, then there may be a payout to help with resolution and remediation.

This may very well include mould decontamination costs. Because often the mould happens slowly, over a period of time with no way to discover the damage, this is considered something that an insurance company may cover.

However, like all insurance policies, there are a series of limitations. If the leak is caused by unconsented repairs or changes, or if works (such as dishwasher installation) are carried out by unqualified tradespeople, then the insurer may decline to cover it.

Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware

Insurance companies, while providing a valuable service in times of disaster, are companies that want to make money. They do this because the house (almost always) wins; over your lifetime, you’ll pay more in insurance than you’ll receive from claims.

When choosing your insurance, read the policy well. Each insurer and each house insurance policy cover different things. They also will have exclusions, and this means they can deny a perfectly valid claim due to something you may not even have been aware of.

When you buy a home, you need to get a thorough builders report done. This should test moisture levels (for leaks or leaky homes), meth contamination levels, the presence of any asbestos, and for any unconsented building work. While a report can be expensive, it will likely save you a lot of money in the long term, and you can use the findings as a bargaining tool too.

When to contact TechClean

With our qualifications and skill set, there are times when we should be contacted.

Call us today for assistance with any of these.

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