Will EIFS raise your insurance premiums?

 You’ve probably heard the horror stories. They’ve gone around the industry a few times, and if you’re thinking about using EIFS, someone may have offered you a variant of the following story:

“I heard about someone who got EIFS on the outside of their building, and it trapped all the moisture in. Then they had to replace all the cladding and deal with a massive mold problem.”

Is there truth to this? And is it worth worrying about? Should you be concerned about the safety of EIFS as a commercial building material, and will you have trouble with insurance?

The original story

EIFS quickly gained popularity in the United States in the 1980s after making its way over from Europe. But in 1996, a flood of lawsuits broke, starting with a homeowner in North Carolina who broke through his outside wall while trying to install a shutter and discovered horrific rot behind the EIFS cladding on his home.

The exterior cladding system, originally touted as a fantastic solution to energy issues, now weathered a period where insurers basically considered it toxic. Even after better installation systems were introduced, EIFS insurance for installers became both expensive and hard to find, and premiums shot up.

The current landscape

Things are a little different now.

Though EIFS still carries some of the stigma from those residential installations, the issues that caused the original concerns are now largely mitigated. Through 2000, there were hundreds of insurance claims being filed per year pertaining to EIFS. In 2016, there were three. EIFS coverage may sometimes be a little harder to get than regular coverage, but premiums are now down in a reasonable range again and likely to continue going down. 

In fact, going forward, the future of this cladding system appears bright. It’s a great fit with green energy programs, and it’s well-suited to many buildings, with commercial applications by good installers being particularly strong.

Though it got a (deserved) bad rap for a few years, EIFS has made a comeback both in the real world and in insurance. If you’ve been concerned, rest assured. Just make sure you have a good, reputable installer that knows what they’re doing and a regular maintenance schedule, as you should for any building. It’s time to get back on board with EIFS.