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Mold is found in every building. Mold growth is mostly in moist, dark environments conducive to growth. Buildings that have water damage from plumbing leaks or other moisture sources are most susceptible. The current building codes for energy conservation have created environments that lack fresh air supply causing mold to become concentrated in the indoors. The first indications of mold contamination are often illness or development of symptoms by the occupants. If you suspect mold contamination, you should avoid exposure until testing and removal of the mold is completed.
First, avoid exposure to the contaminated environment. Repeated or continuous exposure may result in serious health problems. You should seek medical attention if you believe the exposure has adversely impacted your health. Next, eliminate the source of moisture in order to mitigate the mold damage, and eliminate the growth source. Remove the mold damaged materials from the building and contents using a certified remediation contractor. Upon completion of the remediation, a qualified industrial hygienist should perform clearance testing to ensure that the levels of mycotoxins are at an acceptable level.
Mold exclusions are now included in most homeowners and commercial property insurance policies. However, covered water losses are typically the main source of mold growth and therefore, your insurance company should be responsible for the cost of the mold abatement provided the building item is damaged by water first. Mold on a water damaged wall, floor or other building items is a sign the item was wet thus water damaged allowing the mold to grow. Some States have approved homeowner’s policy forms that allow you a basic dollar amount for mold remediation in policies and allow you to buy back higher limits.
In many cases we can present the expert fee in the claim for reimbursement by your insurance company. Either way, the benefits of the experts report far outweighs the cost of the report.
Each policyholder must answer this question independently. Retaining a qualified public adjuster early, undoubtedly, can help to avoid “pitfalls” and miscommunication which could lead to a less positive result down the road.
Most insurance companies use a central index bureau that records information about an insured and their property when a claim is turned in. For water/mold this is called a “CLUE” report (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange). If a new insurance company submits an inquiry on your property, old loss information will show up. Thus it is important to have experts provide you with air quality clearance reports once your remediation is complete. You should keep this information in a secure place in the event you need to verify to someone that the work was completed by an expert.
Charles R “Dick’ Tutwiler was retained as an expert in 2003 by the Florida Department of Insurance in the mold litigation that resulted when the Florida insurance industry sought to exclude mold coverage from their policies. He was also a speaker at the Toxic Mold Litigation Conference held at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach in Oct 2002.
He has written several articles on the subject of mold, mold infestation and mold damage insurance claims which has been published in national publications. Please visit our important article section of the web site for other information about mold, and its history as it relates insurance property losses and damage claims.