As many of us know, mold can develop following a water loss. In California, water losses are one of the most common property damage claims we see. So how do insurers address mold in relation to water damage claims?
In Texas, when you have a mold problem you get an inspection, then a remediation. If you find yourself fighting with your insurance company, you may need a lawyer. I have come across several cases in the last few weeks where property owners had mold issues stemming from hailstorms and windstorms that caused leaks. Their insurance companies took so long to pay the claims that the leaks grew into mold problems.
It’s common that water losses produce mold if not properly remediated. Time and time again, you hear that mold, fungus or wet rot is a common exclusion in homeowners insurance policies. The question is simple- is mold covered or not? The simple answer is that in most policies mold that happens over time is not usually covered. However, in some instances, it may be argued that mold may be covered under an insurance policy when it is a result of a covered loss and is the result or proximate cause of the covered loss.
People across the country are becoming increasingly educated regarding the health risks associated with mold exposure. The insurance industry implemented many wording changes in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s after an increase of mold damage submissions in conjunction with covered water damage claims.
Property policies usually include a mold exclusion. Water damage, however, is a commonly covered “cause of loss.” Mold growth and water infiltration have a close causal tie, and there has been a raging dispute in the industry over whether property policies respond to mold losses when water infiltration, a covered cause of loss, caused or contributed to the mold. The debate is complicated by fairly common exclusionary language that incorporates an “ensuing loss” exception:.
We do not cover loss caused by:
(2) rust, rot, mold or other fungi. …
We do cover ensuing loss caused by collapse of the building or any part of the building, water damage, or breakage of glass which is part of the building if the loss would otherwise be covered under this policy.
After writing about mold exclusions the past two weeks, I intended to move on to a different topic. However, a discussion I had this past week with an insurance defense attorney convinced me that the mold exclusion deserved one last post.
Last week’s post introduced the mold exclusion commonly found in many all-risk policies. While last weeks post focused on a situation where mold damage was excluded, this week I am writing about a case where mold damage was covered, even though the policy at issue had a mold exclusion.
The past few weeks, I wrote about the evolution of the all-risk policy from some of the earliest fire insurance policies and explained that “all-risk” does not mean all loss. This week I want to focus on one of the common exclusions found within all-risk policies – the mold exclusion.
Should Florida create a fourth state-run Insurance entity to cover sinkhole losses? This question was recently reported on by Julie Patel of the Sun-Sentinel. The question was raised during an Office of Insurance Regulation symposium held in Orlando. The attendees were primarily those in the insurance industry—insurance consumers are usually at work during the day.
Oftentimes after a windstorm, flood, or plumbing leak, mold develops in a home. There are several standard insurance policies issued in Texas, and they all have some language that deals with mold. For example, a standard Texas Dwelling Policy—Form 3 specifically excludes mold damage, but covers an “ensuing loss” caused by water damage. These clauses seemingly contradict one another: how can there be no coverage for mold damage if it is an “ensuing loss” caused by water damage? In 2004, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas discussed this issue in Malley v. Allstate Texas Lloyds.