Are Molds Toxic to Insurers?
There are many serious instances of mold-related insurance claims throughout history. These pesky fungi have caused a number of claims of property damage and serious mold infestations in a lot of properties already. This has also led to some cases of people suffering from exposure to mold. Most of the time, insurers have not been able to remediate and cover these concerns, leading to a number of bad faith claims, and this is why molds are toxic to insurers.
Molds are a form of fungus that spread through their spores. Though they have been around for hundreds of millions of years, they have spread into urban areas at a sporadic rate. This is due to how they grow through carbon-based materials, which are present in many buildings. Paper and drywall make excellent food sources for mold, especially when these materials are within hot and damp areas.
Some species happen to be toxic and these are the primary concerns for those making insurance claims. These include “black mold” (Stachybotrys) and Aspergillus, which are common examples. These molds have been known to produce mycotoxins, a type of cytotoxic or toxin that disturbs cellular activity once it penetrates human flesh. There are studies that support the idea that mold exposure can aggravate pre-existing conditions such as asthma.
Effect on the Insurance Industry and Consumers
Due to how grave the impact mold cases have on the industry, insurers have limited coverage and exposure over any mold-related claims. Because of how some companies no longer touch these cases, the insured often resort to third-party claims against contractors and anyone remotely tied to the construction and maintenance of their domiciles. There have also been a number of uninsured mold losses, thus increasing the loss of exposure for insurance agents and brokers.
Mold-related cases have affected the insurance industry so much that they have increased homeowner insurance costs, which, in turn, led to a decrease in home sales. However, the approach taken by the companies has prevented the worsened spread of claims involving asbestos before.
Types of Claims
There are two types of claims: requests for reimbursement for remediation of property damage and claims of personal injury. These claims fall under homeowner policies, even when some have been exposed to mold in workplaces. There have been many claims of bad faith as well. In the case of bad faith, most of the insured argues that mold would have propagated had the insurer not found a way to remediate water damage or prevent the spread of fungi in the area.
A Frenzy of Cases
Due to how prevalent personal injury claims have been, the government have found difficulty controlling their volume or how to properly assess and judge them. There are ongoing studies and even within the medical and scientific community, there are many disagreements as to the correlation between health and the mold. As far as legislation goes, states have made laws to look into and study these cases properly. The volume of personal injury claims is so costly to insurers that it is no wonder why they are pulling out from these cases.
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has provided a provision that limits mold-related cases to only damages that have occurred without the knowledge of the insured, among others. This is the pro-active approach taken by the companies. With so many cases, there is only so much that the companies can handle. With varying degrees of coverage, the mold-related cases have, in a way, become as toxic to the industry as they have been to consumers’ bodies.