Insurers should be paying for testing and cleanup of lead and asbestos. But lately they've decided not to.

Testing and cleanup of these toxics is part of normal costs of repair. Why do some insurers refuse to paythese costs.

If you own an older house in California (and that means most houses; anything before the 1980's) it has asbestos and lead in it. There's really no need to worry, though, because asbestos is only dangerous if it released into the air and you breath it. Asbestos in your kitchen flooring, or sheet rock, or wrapping heating ducts, is safe while it's sitting there. Same for lead.

But if fire or some other event causes damage, and you need repairs, careful testing and abatement (meaning cleanup) of asbestos and lead is really important, not only for your family, but for the crews working on your house. It's even important to the employees of insurance companies who investigate claims, or anyway it should be. In most cases the first step is to have your house tested for the presence of asbestos and lead. If those substances are found, a specialized abatement company should come in, remove the materials containing asbestos and lead, and dispose of them properly.

Probably you won't be surprised to learn that such specialized testing and abatement costs money. And insurance companies don't want to spend more than they absolutely have to for repairs. So, some (but not all) of them have decided not to cover these repair costs.

The good news is that such corner-cutting violates California law, and we are chasing after companies who refuse to cover these costs of repair. If this has happened to you, even if it was years ago, let us know.