Bubbling Paint on Asbestos Cement Sheeting

Another guest post from the team at QBM Strata

Does your unit complex have asbestos cement sheeting?asbestos-ceiling

Is the paint peeling or bubbling?
What do you do?

Firstly, do not get any old painter in to repaint the ceiling and make it look good. The chances are they will start sanding the paint or water blast the area.

Do Not in any circumstance allow a painter or any other person to sand or water blast the peeling or buddling paint.

Does the strata complex have asbestos cement sheeting?

The use of asbestos in any form was banned in Australia from 31 December 2003. However the majority of building products used in strata complexes was phased out during the 1980’s. But unfortunately due to Australia’s insistence on importing everything from overseas, it has now been found that Australia imported sheeting containing asbestos up to 2003, and surprisingly, it has just been identified that imports from China, even in 2015, contain asbestos.

Therefore, you cannot assume that your complex does not have asbestos just by looking at the construction date.

If the complex has any commercial uses then under the Work Health and Safety Act, the complex MUST have an inspection completed by a competent person to identify all asbestos on site.

If the complex is purely residential, it still at times becomes a workplace and as such an asbestos audit should be undertaken to identify all asbestos on site.

How to identify asbestos?

Asbestos was used in thousands of building products and not just sheeting.

A competent asbestos assessor has the expertise to identify products and materials that may contain asbestos. However, you cannot see asbestos. The asbestos fibres are too small to see with the naked eye.

Due to this, you can hold a piece of sheeting manufactured in 1975 and a piece manufactured in 2016 and not see any difference, especially if both are painted and you can only see the face of the sheeting as is the case in any building.

There are 2 methods of identifying asbestos within a complex.

  1. Assume that everything contains asbestos.
  2. Take samples to prove if products actually do contain asbestos.

Assuming asbestos

This means that everything must be assumed as containing asbestos, even though it may not contain asbestos.

If you are using this method, you are wasting your money by not using a professional asbestos auditor. You may as well get any person, child or adult, off the street to tell you that they don’t know what is or what is not asbestos and therefore everything must be assumed to contain asbestos.

You not only waste money on the audit, but you now have major expenditure above the standard cost of all works to be carried out on site, as the trades persons must treat everything as containing asbestos. On top of this additional cost that could add many thousands of dollars to the smallest job, the complex will then need to have regular re-audits.

Taking samples

A professional company will safely take samples of all suspect materials and prove that materials do or do not contain asbestos. Samples are taken in a safe manner in accordance with the methods as stated in the legislation.

The results will then be used to produce an accurate register of all asbestos on site. The complex will then only pay the additional job costs where asbestos is actually present.

Plus, re-audits may not be required as the complex may actually be asbestos free. This has been the case in many hundreds of audits that I have personally completed.

By spending $50 for a sample, you could save many thousands of dollars.

Please note also that an “asbestos gun” that is purported to identify asbestos by pointing a machine against a wall, is not a legal method to identify asbestos . Such machines do not meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act.

Preparing surfaces prior to painting

The first thing to understand is that asbestos kills people and pets. The dangers are most prevalent when there is dust present and you breathe in that dust.

Therefore, any surface preparation prior to painting must not result in any dust being generated.

As such, you must not expect to have a perfectly finished surface after painting. There may well be bumps and uneven surfaces from the old paint, as the painters must not dry sand any asbestos materials.

For a heart wrenching story on the deadly effects of asbestos, click the link to see the story of the Saga family who lost their son, Adam at only 26, after being exposed to asbestos at the age of 18 months.



I would remind readers that most insurance policies now contain quite wide all encompassing exclusions for any loss involving asbestos. Personally I think the exclusions are too wide and should be limited to only cases where asbestos has been inhaled and not all property or injury claims arising from asbestos.

RiskCoach short courseTo learn more about the important topic of asbestos which touches on so many aspects of insurance including removal of debris, please go to the short courses section of LMI RiskCoach.

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The Dangers Within – Asbestos – Guest article QBM Strata

Asbestos-Trowled-on-finish-4Today we have a guest post courtesy of QBM Strata. Thanks guys..

When you mention the term asbestos most people think about sheeting, but the truth is asbestos was used in hundreds of different products, many not well known to the general public. Asbestos products fall into two main categories. Non friable, including products like sheeting and roofing and friable, which includes products like loose fill insulation, pipe lagging and vermiculite ceilings. While loose fill insulation has created many headlines especially in Canberra [Mr Fluffy].

Vermiculite ceilings and walls which can contain asbestos have also been used on a very large scale.

Vermiculite ceilings and walls are generally found in commercial buildings, unit blocks and dwellings constructed up until the 1980,s. In essence, it’s a spray-on textured finish which was generally painted over, but it’s also not unusual to find area’s including ceilings inside units that have not been sealed or tested.

Unlike sheeting, textured finishes are soft to touch [friable] and it’s very easy to dislodge particles. An unsuspecting unit owner, a tenant moving furniture, or a cleaning contractor dusting off cobwebs could all potentially expose themselves.

It’s always dangerous to generalise, but it’s well documented that unlike sheeting which often contains very low percentages of asbestos, vermiculites can often contain very high levels of asbestos.

Unfortunately vermiculite finishes aren’t the only asbestos dangers found inside units and houses. Some decorative finishes used around the same period also contained asbestos. These surfaces are much less common than vermiculite and have a trowelled-on finish as shown in the photo labelled decorative finish below. Once again the friable nature of this product makes it easy to dislodge. A recent asbestos report led to a number of positive dust samples being taken inside a unit complex of this nature; fortunately air monitoring was within acceptable levels. Even so the owner’s corporation made the difficult but prudent decision to vacate the units while remediation actions were evaluated.

While any asbestos based product poses an extremely high risk in an enclosed area, it’s important to be aware of external renders and finishes that can also contain asbestos. Below are photos of the external finishes on a residence and unit block that both returned positive samples.

Overall the message is simple; if you’re not sure get it tested by a qualified professional. Many asbestos audits on unit complexes only do common areas, and never look inside a unit at ceilings. Perhaps the interests of all unit owners would be better served if audits included?at least one unit internal, if not more.

To learn more about asbestos please visit the Short Courses section of LMI RiskCoach where there is a wealth of information on this important topic.



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Blog Question on Under-insurance when it is a total loss

bigstock-Questions-And-Answers-8042036I was asked from Jason:

“Hi Allan

I just wanted to ask you a simple question, as you’re the expert in these matters.

From time to time I hear comments from insurance brokers who seem to think average (business insurance) applies to a full loss situation.  Every time I have this discussion, I begin to question myself despite literature I have read/read that supports my belief – that average doesn’t apply in this situation.

So could you please put the matter straight, does average apply in the matter of a full loss?  (from everything I’ve read, if the client is under-insured then the reality of that will become evident upon a full loss).

If correct, do you have any literature on this topic (apart from what I can ordinarily find myself)?


Jason” [surname and email provided]

This is an important question as under insurance is a major problem, often with life changing effects on business owners in far too many claims.

I replied the following:

“Hi Jason,

Thanks for your note. It is certainly a question that confuses many in the industry. The answer depends on what is meant by a total loss.

Strictly speaking the test for coinsurance applies to all property claims under a most commercial insurance policies where the loss exceeds 10% of the declared value/sum insured.

The way the policies are written, the test for co-insurance applies first, and then the second test is the limit of liability / sum insured.

Mathematically if the value at risk equals the loss, that is, everything is destroyed including the foundations of a building for example then the insured will end up with the sum insured/ limit of liability.

Let me show you by way of example:

Example 1 – Everything is destroyed and Value at Risk = Loss Amount and Policy has a Sum Insured or if Declared Value on ISR = Limit of Liability
Sum Insured/Declared Value = $1,000,000 (Note in case of an ISR Policy assume Limit of Liability is also $1,000,000)
 Value at Risk = $2,000,000
Loss Amount = $2,000,000
 Co-Insurance 80%
 Test 1 – Test for Under Insurance = Sum Insured or  Declared Value / Value at Risk x Loss Amount
 =  $1,000,000 /80% of $2,000,000  x  2,000,000
 = $1,000,000 /1,600,000 x $2,000,000
= 62.50% x $2,000,000
 =  $1,250,000
 But claim payment limit to
Sum Insured / Declared Value = $1,000,000
 (less any policy deductibles)

If in the same situation the limit of liability was greater than the declared value, then the insured could receive a payout higher than the amount they have declared.

Example 2 – Declared Value is greater than the Value at Risk where total asset insured is destroyed 
Declared Value = $1,000,000
Limit of Liability = $1,500,000
Value at Risk = $2,000,000
Loss Amount = $2,000,000
Co-Insurance % 80%
Test 1 – Test for Under Insurance = Sum Insured or Declared Value / 80$ of Value at Risk x Loss Amount
= $1,000,000 / 80% of $2,000,000 x $2,000,000
= $1,000,000 / $1,600,000 x $2,000,000
= 62.50% x $2,000,000
= $1,250,000.00
As claim after average is less than
the Limit of Liability client entitled
to $1,250,000.00
Plus any removal of debris, extra
cost of reinstatement and other
benefits not subject to test for
co-insurance (subject to any sub-
limits) less any policy deductible.

Where it gets more complicated is where the loss exceeds the declared value of sum insured, but not everything has been destroyed. That is, the loss does not equal the value at risk. In such a case, mathematically the insured could be paid less than the sum insured even though the sum insured has been exhausted.

Again let me show you by way of example

Example 3 – Loss Greater than Sum Insured/Declared Value but not everything destroyed, say foundations and slab undamaged.
Declared Value = $1,000,000
Limit of Liability = $1,000,000
Value at Risk = $2,000,000
Loss Amount = $1,500,000
Co-Insurance % 80%
Test 1 – Test for Under Insurance = Sum Insured 0r Declared Value / 80 % of Value at Risk x Loss Amount
= $1,000,000 / 80% of $2,000,000 x $1,500,000
= $1,000,000 / $1,600.000 x $1,500,000
= 62.50% x $1,500,000
= $937,500
Claim is limited to the net amount $937,500
after average assuming no
additional cover for removal
of debris, extra
cost of reinstatement etc
less any policy deductible.

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to let me know.

One final point is that a great tool that is free from LMI Group is the Under Insurance under insurance appCalculator. It is available through the iTunes App Store for iPhones and iPads (search on LMI Mobile) or through LMI RiskCoach under calculators on your PC.



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