Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Biohazard Cleanup?

When you contemplate the purchase of homeowners insurance, you consider coverage for losses that include fire, theft, and storm damage. If you are like most people buying homeowners insurance, you do not have the elimination of biohazards from your home on your radar. As is discussed in a moment, a grim situation could arise in which you face the prospect of retaining the services of a biohazard remediation specialist to deal with a cleanup at your home. In such a situation, you will want to be able to access insurance coverage to address some, if not all, of the costs associated with a biohazard cleanup.

Typical Homeowners Insurance Coverage

In California, homeowners insurance is not required by law. Mortgage lenders do require this type of coverage, not only in this state but across the country. Consequently, 96 percent of all homeowners in the country have homeowners insurance.

As an aside, a renter could also face the prospect of some sort of situation in his or her residence in which biohazard cleanup or remediation is necessary. Less than 30 percent of tenants in the United States maintain renters insurance coverage.

The average cost for a homeowners insurance policy in the United States is approximately $455 annually. A majority of homeowners insurance policies do include personal liability coverage, typically in an amount between $100,000 to $300,000.

Some individuals who might have more exposure, because of owning a greater amount in assets and similar issues, obtain an umbrella liability policy. The level of coverage through an umbrella liability policy typically is $1 million or even more. This type of insurance covers a broader range of situations that include claims made for liable, slander, or mental anguish. It may also be able to supplement coverage provided under a basic homeowners insurance policy in some circumstances.

The Need for Biohazard Remediation in Your Home

The need for professional assistance from a biohazard cleanup service can arise in a number of different ways. These include the occurrence of one or another traumatic events that occur at people’s homes each day:

  • Accidents
  • Homicides
  • Suicides
  • Unattended deaths (where the body is not immediately discovered)

How to Determine if Your Homeowners Insurance Covers Biohazard Cleanup

Legally, an insurance policy is a long, complicated contract. One way of trying to ascertain whether or not your homeowners insurance policy contains coverage for biohazard cleanup is to read it. An easier course is to contact your insurance agent or the insurer directly. If you are in immediate need of biohazard cleanup and remediation at your home, you can reach out to the claims office or the claims adjuster associated with your insurance company.

If you have difficulties in ascertaining whether or not you have coverage for biohazard cleanup, contact the California Department of Insurance. The agency maintains a consumer hotline at (800) 927-4357. In addition, the California Insurance Department maintains an office in LA at:

300 South Spring Street
South Tower
Los Angeles, California 90013

The Department’s website is:
www.insurance.ca.gov

If you ascertain that your existing homeowners insurance policy lacks coverage for professional residential biohazard cleanup and remediation services, seriously consider adding this protection to your existing policy. Odds are that you will be able to add this type of coverage for a minimal increase in your annual premium. (Technically speaking, this coverage would be added to your existing homeowners policy through what is known as an insurance rider.)

Do Biohazard Cleaning Companies Accept Insurance?

A biohazard cleaning service nearly always accepts insurance to cover some or all of the costs associated with a residential remediation. A biohazard remediation service will submit a claim on your behalf. You must keep in mind that merely because a remediation service submits a claim to your insurance company doesn’t mean that the insurer will pay out on that claim. If the insurance company denies the claim, you remain personally responsible for paying the costs associated with a biohazard cleanup at your home.

Does an Insurance Company Select a Residential Biohazard Cleanup Service?

As the law stands in California, you have the legal right to select the biohazard remediation service you desire and trust to undertake a cleanup at your residence. If an insurance company attempts to require you to utilize a particular provider, that is considered “steering” under California law and is illegal. If an insurer persists in requiring you to use a specific service, contact the California Insurance Department immediately.

How to Proceed without Insurance Coverage

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing immediate biohazard remediation at your home and you lack insurance coverage, you may be inclined to take on the cleanup task yourself. Taking on the task of biohazard cleanup on your own most definitely is not recommended. In fact, undertaking biohazard cleanup on your own is dangerous.

If you were to attempt this type of cleanup on your own, you very well may expose yourself to harmful bacteria and other contaminants. In addition, because you lack the experience, supplies, and equipment necessary to adequately cleanup, sanitize, deodorize, and restore the premises to a truly habitable condition, you may expose yourself, your family, and others to dangerous bacteria and contaminants even after you think you’ve eliminated the hazardous material.

If your home was the scene of a crime, you may be eligible for financial assistance up to $1000 for biohazard cleanup from the California Victim Compensation Board.  You can learn more about the process in our article about financial assistance for victims of crime.