Would You Like A Little Mold With That Insurance Claim?
Many of the calls we get from policyholders lately, regarding their Hurricane Irma insurance claim goes a little like this: “Roof damage caused bedroom flood, water running down the wall, water came in the front door, sheet rock and crown molding are ruined, now mold growing causing health concern.”
Most homeowners will have a limit on their mold coverage in their policy. But remember there would be no mold but for water and water loss is not limited. I am making this statement despite the fact that we have seen some insurance companies actually try to limit water loss coverage.
Coming to an agreement with your insurance company on how to deal with mold can create major disagreements due to the fact that certain “fixes” can be expensive. So make sure you understand all your options.
Many homeowners who stay in their home may first detect mold when they start to experience throat or eye irritation. This is a red flag that something nasty is in the air. You might also detect a moldy odor or dampness inside the house. First understand that facts specific to each claim can be very different but these are some general guidelines you may want to discuss with your adjuster should you come back to a home with mold starting to appear.
Remove any contents remaining in the home and move to a storage area off property. This will allow you to inspect for damages to the contents and separate the damaged items from the undamaged ones. This will also allow you to get a better sense of what items are repairable verses a total loss and help you make your personal contents claim later on. Also by removing contents, it may prevent any cross contamination concerns.
Then you might consider getting a hygienist to come in and do a thorough inspection of the home to see what if any contaminants are present in the house. If they are present, then a repair estimate needs to be drafted to determine what needs to be torn out to rid the home of any findings from the hygienist.
This estimate along with the actual physical damages estimate is the one you need to either file a claim or go to appraisal if that is an option. The same hygienist should also inspect your contents and write a report on their findings. Typically hard surfaces can be cleaned, but fabrics and electronics (in my opinion) are better replaced depending on the findings. See our previous blog for more tips on how to manage mold after water damage.
Once your claim is settled and your contractor follows the repair recommendations from the hygienist, you should consider having an air quality test done. If the house passes, then your are good to go. This report is important because if you ever decide to sell your home, you can prove that all repairs have been completed and you have a report (air quality final clearance) as an insurance policy of sorts for any prospective buyer. Remember, your home will now be in the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange), a database insurance companies use to memorialize a loss to an insured property that all carries have access to should future claims be made.
Finally if you do go to appraisal to solve the claim dispute, I suggest you have an understanding with your appraiser that you want to review his work product before he or she submits it to the other side in the appraisal process. You have the right to attend the appraisal meeting but when deliberations are conducted you will not be allowed to participate or attend the deliberations. And remember appraisal is final!