Insurers are facing huge increases to the cost of repair on flooded and fire-damaged properties under legislation designed to limit asbestos deaths.

A new duty of care to be introduced by the government this week could mean that damage repair agents will have to treat a building as contaminated by asbestos unless presented with a 'type three' survey.

Hazardous Materials Response consultant Jeff Charlton said: "The number of buildings in the UK that have this kind of survey is minuscule. Thousands of buildings damaged by fire or flood will have to be treated as if they are contaminated with asbestos."