When most people think about mold in their homes, they tend to focus on the week-old bread that they will have to replace, and not about the entire kitchen they might have to remodel if mold is left unchecked throughout their home, or the potential health risks that could ensue. Depending on the terms of their insurance, these same people may be denied coverage to help pay for the damages done by mold to their home. Typically, insurance companies will have a limit on the amount the company will pay for the damages, which leaves the homeowner to pay for the rest out of their own pockets.
Insurance companies will consider the factors that contributed to the mold, as well as the terms of the policy itself, when determining whether the company will or will not cover the mold damage. Therefore, it is important to do your due-diligence as a homeowner, and inspect your pipes and areas where water can be stored or build up. If there are no defects or issues with the pipes, and they were in sufficient working order, then an insurance company is more likely to cover the damage as an accidental or sudden water damage issue, where, conversely, companies do not tend to cover damages that were a result of poor maintenance. These “poor maintenance” damages can include repetitive leaks, landscaping that forces water towards the home, improper drainage, or humidity. The key distinction is whether an event has happened over time, and therefore will likely not be covered, or whether an event is sudden and unavoidable, and likely will be covered. It is important to report and file a claim as soon as the incident is discovered.
Another facet of the due diligence of a homeowner includes checking the language of their homeowner’s insurance each year. Insurance companies are paying more money for mold related damages, as mold related claims have dramatically increased over recent years. Many insurance companies are as sick of the claims as homeowners are sick of the mold in their home, therefore, they have started to adjust the mold coverages accordingly, often without notice to the homeowner. It is imperative to continue to check the terms of your insurance policy and to make sure that there is still coverage for mold damages, and to make sure that the company has not reduced the coverage they offer so much so that a homeowner is left with practically no coverage for the mold related damages.
Not only can mold be harmful to your wallet and your home, it can be just as dangerous to the health of the family living in the home. Different people have different sensitivities to mold; the young and the elderly tend to be more at risk for health issues resulting from exposure to mold. According to the CDC, mold exposure can cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation, as well as fever and shortness of breath in those with more severe reactions. Mold can lead to asthma and other respiratory illnesses in otherwise healthy adults, and especially children. Some studies have even suggested that improved living conditions can reduce morbidity rates from asthma and other respiratory illnesses in children.
Key things to remember when dealing with mold are; find the source, review the homeowner’s policy and know what is excluded and what is covered, and be aware of any changes the insurance company makes to the policy year to year. By knowing the source, such as an accident like burst pipes, then you are more likely to know whether damages are covered by the insurance or not (mold caused by floods or by poor maintenance are generally not covered). Once you know the source and have looked to the insurance policy and determined whether it falls into an exclusion, or is in fact covered, it is important to know the limitations. Insurance companies will often put limits on how much of the damages they will cover, so again it is important to know what that limit is, and to check to see if the company has changed that limit. Above all, it is important to remember the health of your family; act quickly when you detect mold, and act accordingly to prevent your children and loved ones from health risks that could have been avoided.
Mold is a very dangerous substance that can be potentially deadly to your family. Do not let the insurance company deny your mold claim without a proper inspection. Let the Berniard Law Firm help you fight for the full value allowable under the mold coverage. Contact the Berniard Law Firm today for a free consultation.