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Scottish News

Storm Dennis; The hidden menace of asbestos remediation Insurance perspective

It is interesting to note that the liability of an Insurer is to reinstate damage; and does not necessarily mean insurers have a duty to remove asbestos where it is not affected by the damage.

Given the recent deluge of poor weather felt across the UK, the construction sector – along with many others – is under pressure to repair the damage caused by strong winds, falling trees, and rising water levels. However, as the flood waters recede, and the damage is assessed there may be a previously hidden risk factor which could add to an already complicated and costly reinstatement; namely Asbestos.

Asbestos was imported to the UK from around 1870, and thereafter utilised extensively across the construction sector, in new developments of the era or building upgrades. Many domestic property owners specifically installed Asbestos on the recommendation of insurers as a medium with which to lower premiums before the product was finally banned from use in 1999. As a direct result of its multiple uses and properties, Asbestos can remain an ongoing risk within all pre- 2000 buildings, whether as an existing product or from historical contamination from sub-standard asbestos removal.

Importantly, if asbestos is sealed in good condition and regularly managed/inspected then it is perfectly safe to remain within any domestic, commercial or industrial setting.

However, as a result of the recent ferocious weather, the condition of many asbestos products may have been compromised to a point where previously identified safe products now pose a direct risk to health, in addition to the potential to contaminate all surrounding materials.

Typical products

Asbestos can be found in over 18,000 products across the domestic, commercial and industrial sector (for more information visit ask-abs. Typical storm damage can range from;

‹ ‹ ‹

Damaged Asbestos Cement Roof Sheets Broken Asbestos Vinyl Floor Tiles

Collapsed Asbestos Insulation Board or Textured Coating Ceilings. Resolve

Potential Removal works – Reactive response to any risks identified in the above surveys.

The secondary consideration is the rebuilding cost of the property; If affected to this extent is the presence of asbestos likely to affect the overall reinstatement cost? Is there underinsurance because of the presence of asbestos materials? Has anyone factored in the likely reinstatement costs taking into account the asbestos removal and disposal costs? In order to mitigate the risks, the following steps will help you or your client have a better understanding of the risks (both financially and in terms of health) which may be posed by the presence of asbestos within a building.


Management Survey – Proactive step carried out before risk presents.

Non-intrusive survey that seeks to identify all Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) within a building.

Basis for all effective asbestos management plans and a legal requirement for all non-domestic buildings constructed pre-2000.

Will assess risk based on normal occupancy including everyday maintenance activities.


Refurbishment Survey – Reactive inspection to assess full extent of risk.

In-depth assessment required to highlight previously hidden ACMs that may have been damaged during severe weather episodes.

Highly intrusive, therefore will only target areas affected by damage.

Legal requirement on all pre-2000 buildings before start of works to help protect any tradespeople involved in the refurbishment process ensuring they are not affected by the release of asbestos fibres;

Where asbestos is identified our expert team can advise on the best solution to keep you safe. This may be through advising the safe removal by a competent contractor, or encapsulation/repair to minor damage.

How can I protect myself? – “Plan. Assess. Resolve.”

No matter the problem, ABS can provide nation-wide emergency response to identify any asbestos risks and advise on next steps to get you and your clients back on their feet quickly.

For 24/7 help and advice, contact our team on 01355 222525 or

Darroch McCartney Managing Director


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