While I was looking at appliances in Home Depot this week, an announcement throughout the store warned shoppers that any house built before the 1970s still may have lead-based paint on the walls and posing a risk to residents. This risk extends to many houses across New York state and has resulted in numerous efforts to reduce the exposure. Due to the potential high costs, insurance companies often exclude damages caused by expose to lead-based paint from rental property insurance policies.
Currently, legislation introduced in the state Assembly and Senate (A.7488/S.3079) would prohibit insurance carriers from including this exclusion. While the lead-based paint issue remains an important one for many people in the state, this legislation does not actually address the issue and would likely increase the costs of renting in many areas of New York.
Insurance carriers do not have to offer policies for rental properties in every corner of the state and they would be able to withdraw from areas with a high number of properties that may expose residents to lead-based paint easily. The carriers that remain would need to raise premiums significantly to adapt to such increased exposure.
Steps to take
Community-based efforts, many funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, help property owners address the risk of lead-paint on older properties. Such efforts address the problem of lead-based paint and the high cost of reducing the exposure properly.
According to PIANY, which opposes this legislation, prohibiting insurance carriers from excluding coverage would not assist with the efforts to protect all New Yorkers from the damage caused by lead-paint exposure. It also would make it more difficult and more expensive for homeowners to obtain adequate insurance for their property.
PIANY is undertaking an advocacy campaign to oppose this legislation and it has distributed a position paper on the topic to elected leaders in the state Assembly and Senate. You can help with the association’s efforts, write to your senator and member of the Assembly through PIAdvocacy to support these efforts.
Clare Irvine, Esq.
Clare Irvine, Esq., graduated from Fordham University School of Law and Arizona State University.