Warning on Asbestos Imports
Since the beginning of 2004, Australia has had a complete ban on the importation, manufacture and use of asbestos and products containing asbestos.
As with some of the electrical wiring and insulated foam panels that are being imported from China, it has now been found that building materials, auto parts, crayons and other products imported into Australia from China, contain asbestos.
It is my understanding that under Chinese law, a product that contains less than 5% asbestos can be labelled “Asbestos free” when in fact the product is not. The use of this product can become a real risk to property owners, importers and tradesmen that purchase and install the products etc.
I will confine my comments in this blog to asbestos related products. Since the massive claims that arose out of the use of asbestos, it has become a blanket exclusion across home, business pack, liability and construction risk policies.
More recently, at least one insurer has an automatic decline on any building that contains asbestos. This is as I understand it, is being reviewed to become a referral and will be rated with the additional risk, however at this stage it is an exclusion.
As these products that are being imported are identified, a product recall will be called and if the importer does, as I suspect, immediately seek to go into liquidation, it will be left with the retailer or tradesmen that has sold the product to bear the cost in the first instance. This could have a crippling effect on those businesses.
It is always tempting to go for the cheapest option whether it be building materials, autoparts or general insurance. The reality is, you typically get what you pay for and that modest saving which was made, turns out to have created a massive uninsured exposure which could literally have life changing consequences.
I attach a copy of the Department of Immigration Border Protection notice #2016/13 on the subject of asbestos.
Brokers are urged to discuss this important topic with their Insureds.