Policyholders rely on the expertise of the professionals they hire to get the job done right. Therefore, it is imperative that public adjusters identify all aspects of a loss and that includes mold exposure.
Many public adjusters shy away from investigation or presenting mold damage claims based on concerns about limits of liability that exist in most insurance policies (see below: Can you file a mold claim under coverage A?). Public adjusters should not avoid addressing mold from water exposure when assessing damages. Doing so can potentially expose the public adjuster to unnecessary liability and is also a disservice to the policyholder. Addressing mold can be costly and hazardous whether the loss is large or small, those insurance proceeds should not be ignored. Proper claim assessment by public adjusters is essential to protect policyholders and to address the full value of a claim.
Ordering a Mold Inspection Benefits
Both the Homeowner and the Public Adjuster
Mold isn’t always visible – what you can’t see can hurt you!
Provides peace of mind for the homeowner
Protects homeowners health and welfare
Assessment protects against potential liability
How Mold Grows
Mold reproduces through tiny spores that are invisible to the naked eye. These spores float through the air and grow when they land on moist surfaces. All mold requires moisture for growth and whenever moisture is present on building materials testing should be performed. Growth can begin in as little as 24-48 hours after exposure to water. This is often before any substantive water remediation can take place. Moisture accumulation from the original cause of loss may be amplified through humidity, condensation, or additional intrusion from leaks, spills, floods, etc.
…Mold isn’t always visible – what you can’t see can hurt you!
Symptoms To Watch For
“The presence of mold in a home should not be dismissed when presenting an insurance claim”, says Joe Puentes licensed mold assessor with MoldExpert.com. According to the CDC, exposure to damp and moldy environments can cause coughing, wheezing, asthma-like symptoms, upper respiratory illnesses and general shortness of breath. The dangers can grow exponentially for the young, elderly, and those suffering from respiratory ailments. Adjusters who investigate water losses yet fail to account for the possibility of mold or order a mold inspection, could be subjected to potential liability. By safeguarding the client and addressing all areas of the insured damages a public adjusters name and reputation are also protected.
Avoiding Potential Public Adjuster Liability
Mold can spread very quickly causing problems for home and business owners if left unchecked or untreated. “Public adjusters run the very real risk of potential liability should they neglect to inform their clients that mold could be present soon after a water loss has occurred. By recommending, in writing, that a client should be aware of the risk of mold contamination and strongly consider mold testing, public adjusters can help avoid future liability should mold later be found present in the home,” says attorney Edward L. Acle, of the Acle Law Firm.
Clients rely on the expertise of their public adjusters and mold is an area that requires specific training and knowledge. It is imperative that public adjusters avoid settling claims without taking mold damage into consideration including exposure to potential errors and omissions claims.
Understanding the $10,000.00 Limit of Mold Liability
It’s all about the cause of loss.
According to counsel, if the cause of loss is water, the mold limit does not apply. Typically policy language in residential policies have limits for the cause of loss of mold. A popular misconception amongst public adjusters is that filing a mold claim will subject the entire claim to the mold limit cap and work against the homeowner’s best interest. This is not always the case. If the cause of the loss is a covered peril on the policy, for example, a water loss the $10,000.00 may not apply. Are you leaving money on the table for your homeowner client?
“Obtaining a mold test is an important step in properly evaluating water losses,” says Jimmy Farach, President of All Risk Claims and President-Elect of FAPIA (Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters). Identifying all possible claim exposure is one of the most important aspects of the work performed by public insurance adjusters.
At MoldExpert.com we occasionally get phone calls from concerned homeowners inquiring about mold testing. When we evaluate their situation we find that they had a previous water loss claim and neither the insurance adjuster nor their public adjuster suggested a mold inspection. To make matters worse many homeowners report that they have already signed a release. They become very upset at their insurance companies and public adjusters when we have to inform them that they are now barred from pursuing a supplemental claim because they signed a release.