Chinese Drywall – Homeowners Insurance Tips and News Fri, 28 Jun 2013 15:01:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Chinese Drywall Update Fri, 04 Jun 2010 15:55:30 +0000 We’ve talked before about the recent conundrum involving drywall imported from China, and how it was hurting some folks by putting their homeowners insurance policies in danger. The drywall contained high levels of certain chemicals that could cause corrosion, as well as a smell of sulfur in the home. Homeowners insurance companies in Florida and other affected places were in some cases not renewing policies based on the presence of this drywall.

Now, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has identified the specific batches and shipments of drywall involved. They used a national facility in California to test drywall products, and they found that certain batches of this drywall were emitting high rates of hydrogen sulfide. It’s this chemical that’s responsible for that rotten-egg smell of sulfur that many homeowners reported.

Two of the ten batches identified were manufactured by Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd in 2005 and 2006. This company has faced lawsuits from literally hundreds of homeowners over this issue, as well as a number of different homebuilders.

The homes affected were primarily located in the Carolinas, Florida, Louisiana and Virginia. In some cases, this drywall was used to help repair homes that had been damaged in hurricanes, including hurricane Katrina. This is especially unfortunate for those hurricane victims who found themselves with an unusable home just months after facing the devastation caused by the natural disaster.

The drywall doesn’t just stink. It’s downright dangerous. There are some folks that speculate that the drywall can cause respiratory problems for people living in the house. In addition, it’s been shown that the drywall has caused problems with corrosion for both wiring and appliances that are installed in affected homes.

The battle is ongoing. Just two weeks ago, Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. made a settlement agreement of $800,000 with one builder. The builder, Beazer Homes USA, Inc., installed the drywall in homes in Southwest Florida during the years 2006 and 2007. Some other builders, such as Lennar Corp., have gone to the trouble of setting aside millions of dollars in order to repair homes that have the defective Chinese drywall.

Overall, there have been more than 3,000 reports of defective drywall to the CPSC in 37 of the states.

Photo via cdsessums

]]> 0
Bill would Ban Chinese Drywall Cancellations Mon, 14 Dec 2009 15:53:41 +0000 From the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

From the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

One of the more frustrating things about the recent problems with Chinese drywall is that unsuspecting homeowners who build their home in good faith have found that they are being dropped by their homeowners insurance providers, who are seeing the problems with the drywall as a preexisting and non-covered condition that causes other problems in the home that won’t be covered either.

Some lawmakers, however, are setting out to change this situation. A bill, created in the U.S. House of representatives, would force insurers to continue carrying its clients in an unaltered way, regardless of whether or not the home has the defective drywall installed.

This so-called “Drywall Victim Insurance Protection Act” is designed to help homeowners have peace of mind, and to keep them from having to worry about losing their insurance while they go through the process of repairing the damage caused by the Chinese Drywall. The bill is sponsored by Representative Charlie Meancon, of Louisiana. Some experts suggest that the chances of the bill passing, however, are relatively remote.

Specifically, the bill makes it illegal for an insurance provider to either cancel or to refuse to renew a policy on single-family dwellings based on the presence or the suspicion of the affected drywall. The Chinese drywall was imported from China between 2004 and 2007, and may have elevated levels of the chemicals sulfur and strontium. For more about the drywall and the problems that it can cause, check out the Consumer Products Safety Commission website.

In addition, this bill prohibits insurers from changing either the terms of the homeowners coverage or changing their premiums due to the presence or suspicion of the drywall. It would also allow any homeowners who have had their homeowners policies canceled to sue their insurance company.

The bill comes as a response to reports in the media that some insurers have decided to drop or to not renew the homeowners insurance policies of some customers because of the Chinese drywall. The insurers claim that the drywall defects are due to either pollution or defective construction, both of which are usually excluded from homeowners policies.

One company, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. even told a couple from Colorado that they would not renew the policy on retirement home in Punta Gorda. The company later reversed its decision after it attracted widespread media coverage.

The bill, if it should pass, would be a boon to victims of the defective Chinese drywall. The biggest challenge, of course, is that insurance tends to be regulated by the individual states rather than by the federal government, and so the bill could raise constitutional issues.

]]> 0
Chinese Drywall Kills Home Insurance Policies Sun, 18 Oct 2009 16:57:24 +0000 iStock_000005131023XSmall

Back in March, officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission began looking into the claim that certain drywall manufactured in China may be causing problems in homes. As a response, many homeowners insurance companies have actually canceled homeowners policies.

The drywall in question was imported during the peak of the housing boom in the United States. The drywall is especially common in southeastern states, including Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana. The drywall materials are thought to emit certain fumes that contain trace amounts of a chemical that can cause a rotten-egg odor when it gets warmer and more humid.

These fumes are causing other damage, as well. They are causing copper pipes to become corroded, causing problems with electronics equipment such as televisions, and even causing silverware to be blackened. Some homeowners who have the Chinese drywall installed believe it is making them ill, although the health risks aren’t entirely clear at this point.

Not all homeowners insurance companies are being so hasty, however. There is one company in Florida, for example, that has decided to renew some policies, despite the presence of Chinese drywall. The company is Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, and it is one of Florida’s state-backed insurers of last resort.

Politicians have gotten into the mix and are trying to advocate for Florida homeowners in the situation. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, for example, has sent a letter to 11 different Florida insurers, asking them to clarify their policies on Chinese drywall. The letters also express the senator’s outrage at the policies being cancelled.

Repairs to homes with the drywall in question can be extremely costly. The entire interior of the building has to be gutted, and all the while the homeowner has to pay their house payment, as well as pay for somewhere to live on a temporary basis. Further complicating the matter is the fact that the insurance companies are considering the problem a preexisting condition, and unable to continue to insure the home. In some cases, the costs of repairs exceed the purchase price of the home.

How widely spread the problem is isn’t known. However, based on shipping records, one company estimates that as many as 50,000 of 2,000 square feet or more may be affected. Of that number, Florida ports actually received drywall enough to make 30,000 of those homes, meaning that the primary location for these homes is likely to be that state.


]]> 1