This edition of Insurance Straight Talk is for anyone who owns or is considering buying a rental property or a multi-family dwelling in CT that was built prior to 1978.
The reason 1978 is the magic year is because lead-based paints were in use prior to 1978. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves and blood”. For more information visit About Lead-Based Paint.
Why am I writing about this in an insurance blog?
With Connecticut rental properties and multi-unit dwellings, the occupants (tenants) may not be family of the owner. And therefore a liability exposure may exist. A child of one of your tenants, for example, decides to eat paint chips. As the owner, you may be liable. As such, the insurance company might have to pay out a claim.
Why do I say the insurance company might have to pay out?
My understanding is that some carriers have filed with the Connecticut State Insurance Department a type of policy which allows them to exclude coverage for lead, while others have policies where no exclusion applies.
What does this all mean, in layman’s terms?
If you call around for Connecticut insurance on rental properties or multi-family dwellings, even if you occupy one or more of the units, you will find that some carriers will not write you a policy unless you have a lead-free or lead-safe certificate and others will write you a policy regardless.
Some carriers accept lead-safe certificates and others require lead-free.
The carriers that will write you a policy regardless likely have an exclusion for lead liability or some limitation within the policy that caps a payout.
Are lead-free and lead-safe certificates the same?
No. While a certified lead abatement inspector can issue either certificate after testing multiple samples of various building components or sub-components, readings of 1.0 milligram of lead per square centimeter of surface or greater is defined as toxic. A lead-free certificate is a certificate that says there were no samples that tested at 1.0 or greater. A lead-safe certificate, on the other hand, can be issued if the test has positive readings, but has intact surfaces.
Why is this not an issue with owner-occupied dwellings?
With owner-occupied dwellings, the owner is living there. Owners cannot bring suit against themselves. So from an Connecticut insurance standpoint, it’s a non-issue.
Contact Olde Liberty Insurance today for a comprehensive insurance review and a no-obligation, customized quote from some of the most reputable carriers in the state of Connecticut.