Mold does not require major storm damage to take root in Florida buildings. It is a pervasive foe to property owners across the U.S., but the higher humidity levels in our state make it a particularly attractive place for mold spores to take up residence.
Of course, when storms cause property damage, they create conditions for new mold development, often at a faster rate than anyone could imagine.
Remediation for new mold caused by storms or other covered perils is generally covered to some extent under property insurance policies, but clients come to our Broward County insurance claim lawyers when their claims are denied as pre-existing mold or when there is a disagreement as to the proper protocol and procedure to remediate the mold. Property owners may need to retain evidence of all prior mold remediation and “clearance testing” results to prove that past instances of mold were fully eradicated from the home.
Monitor and Attack Mold on a Regular Basis
For many individuals, the presence of mold poses significant health risks, which is a major reason for monitoring any property for mold — and fixing it promptly.
On its Mold Cleanup in Your Home web page, the Environmental Protection Agency offers detailed tips on home mold cleanup, as well as access to other detailed information, including how to clean mold in larger areas. Depending on the severity of the mold issues, some individuals may choose to handle their own repairs; others may prefer to hire a service provider with extensive experience in these issues. Either way, mold remediation involves a basic four-step process.
- Identify the source: Even with the best cleanup practices, mold will return quickly if the source of the moisture remains unknown. This can be anything from a leaky pipe in need of repair to a high-moisture location that requires improved ventilation.
- Protect building occupants and other areas of the building from mold exposure and spreading: Anyone who is sensitive to mold may need to avoid certain areas of the property. Anyone who intends to perform repairs and mold cleanup must properly contain the affected areas and must wear approved equipment, including respirators, gloves and goggles.
- Scrub or remove affected materials: Hard surfaces can be cleaned with a biocide or other approved solution and dried thoroughly. Any material that can absorb moisture and thus mold (such as drywall, carpeting, wood studs or ceiling tiles) may need to be removed and replaced.
- Delay cosmetic repairs until mold is removed and the area is dry: It may be tempting to paint or caulk quickly, but you should never do the cosmetic work until after you have had a post-remediation clearance test performed by a professional (but you do not want the same professional to both remediate and perform the clearance test due to the risk of bias in the test results.
Keep in mind that mold remediation becomes more challenging when the mold spores have a chance to take hold and spread to larger areas or get into a building’s HVAC system. Property owners should make the monitoring and repair process a regular part of maintenance.
Documentation is Essential in the Event of a Property Damage Claim
As a general rule, the costs of periodic mold remediation are not eligible for reimbursement through a property insurance claim. That said, it is important to retain evidence that clearly demonstrates that any prior instances of mold have been remediated properly. This evidence can be of great value if a storm or other covered property insurance peril creates a mold issue in the future.
By retaining all receipts and reports — and even capturing before-and-after photos of past mold remediation (with dates) — property owners are in a better position to fight unfair mold remediation claim denials. If you require legal assistance because your property insurance company unfairly denied any portion of your claim, call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form.