If you’re looking to make a mold insurance claim, it’s advised to consider making a water damage claim instead as well.
Many people notice mold growth in their homes and quickly jump to file mold insurance claims. The problem you should be worried about may actually be a water issue, which is causing mold growth.
A mold insurance claim alone may be subject to limited coverages and may not ultimately uncover the real source of the problem. This is why filing both a mold and water damage claim may be required.
Mold Insurance Claims vs. Water Damage Claims
What Is Mold Damage?
Mold damage is the presence of mold in a building that causes damage to property, furniture and personal belongings. If left unaddressed for a long time, mold can weaken the structural integrity of the building as it damages walls, floors, roof and wood.
Mold can also be a health concern for inhabitants, as the spores can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, respiratory infections or asthma.
What Is a Mold Insurance Claim?
A mold insurance claim is a type of property damage claim that seeks compensation for cleaning and repairs of the mold damage.
However, mold growth claims are usually subject to lower insurance coverage limits. There usually must be a reason for the mold growth, such as a sudden, unforeseen disaster.
Insurance companies will almost certainly not cover a mold insurance claim caused by a preventable issue such as poor maintenance, appliance usage or poor ventilation.
What Is a Water Damage Claim?
Water damage claims seek compensation to cover the costs of repairs for damage caused by water.
Water damage is caused by internal issues such as a plumbing disaster. For example, if a pipe suddenly bursts, then it would cause water damage.
We regularly get calls about minor mold damage, which is actually caused by a far bigger water problem.
Determine the Cause of Mold
In the cases of mold, you may or may not be aware of a water damage-related issue causing mold growth. For example, you may have a damaged pipe inside a wall.
In these scenarios, you should make a water damage claim.
Determining the cause of the mold is the best way to know whether you should make a water damage claim. You may require an inspection of your property.
Possible Causes of Water Damage:
Mold may be caused by water damage problems such as:
- Ruptured pipes
- Ruptured water heater
- Appliance malfunction and leaks
- Other unforeseeable plumbing issues
- HVAC systems failing to drain
- Automatic fire systems
What if Mold Was Caused By a Natural Disaster?
If you have mold following a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, flood or rainstorm, then coverage will come under a ‘flood insurance claim’.
While water damage claims cover accidents caused in the building, flood damage claims cover external events that are unpreventable.
However, coverage will not be applied if you don’t take the necessary steps to minimize the damage by shutting windows.
Read our guide on Water Damage vs. Flood Damage
Possible Causes of Flood Damage:
- Hurricanes and storms
- Rivers overflowing
- Lakes overflowing
- Flooding from the ocean
How Do I Make a Water Damage Claim in Florida?
After you have determined that you have sustained water damage to your home, you should file a water damage claim:
Document the Damage
Document the damage immediately. Take photos of the damaged areas and evidence of the source of water – such as a damaged pipe, roof damage or water stain on a wall. If you have old photos of the home before the damage, get them ready to send to your insurer as they can show a before and after comparison.
Turn off water pipes and open windows to prevent further humidity issues but don’t clean or attempt to repair anything until an adjuster has reviewed the property – unless it is an immediate emergency (such as severe leaks).
Contact Your Insurance Company
Immediately notify your insurance company about the mold and water damage as soon as possible. A representative will ask you many questions about your claim to determine whether you have coverage under your homeowner’s policy.
It’s important to state you have photos of the damage and that it is caused by water or flooding – to avoid paying two deductibles. If it has been caused by flooding, you may need a flooding policy add-on.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Mold Damage?
Property damage claims can be quite stressful and tiresome. When it comes to mold damage, things can get even more complicated than usual.
Your insurer may try to blame you for the mold damage by saying things like, “The mold wasn’t caused by the water issue”, “You should have fixed it earlier” or “the mold is caused by poor ventilation”.
They may undervalue your claim or even outright deny it. Insurance companies are for-profit and will do everything they can to prevent paying you the money you need. That’s not right.
When you bought the policy, you expected to be protected in scenarios such as these.
As Florida property damage claim attorneys, we know their tricks. Having worked in the insurance industry ourselves, we don’t get bullied or manipulated by insurers. It’s very easy to get pressured into a low-ball offer, but we will communicate on your behalf to ensure you get coverage for the true value of your damage.
How to Prevent Mold Damage:
The best way to prevent mold damage is to prevent its growth. Florida is particularly mold-prone so it’s not unusual to have mold grow without big water or flood problems. You should:
- Turn off your building’s water immediately if you suspect or see leaking or burst pipes.
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to reduce humidity to 30-60%.
- Ensure your home is properly insulated.
- Install extraction fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Regularly clean out gutters.
- Ensure your home has adequate ventilation – by installing ventilation holes if needed and allowing for fresh air.
- Check crawl spaces, laundry rooms and beneath sinks for mold growth.
- Replace hoses to appliances every five years to prevent leaks.
- Remove any standing water immediately after photographing the damage.
- Dry out any rugs or affected furniture.
How to Spot Mold:
If you’ve recently had water damage or flood damage incident, you may soon start to see mold growth in your home. Dealing with it fast can reduce the damage to your home and health. Here’s how you can spot it:
Mold has a very distinct smell. It can be compared to rotting leaves or may bring out the smell of paint on your walls.
The smell will be strong in the room where it is growing. If you smell it when you turn on your AC it is likely in that system. If you smell mold but can’t find it, it may be under an appliance, carpet or behind a wall.
Mold is often obvious and can be seen on walls, ceilings and wood. It will likely start as small black or gray spots or furry textures before growing into large merged stains.
However, sometimes it may be hard to find and be hidden behind furniture, sinks, appliances or in crawl spaces.
Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage Claims
If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation.
Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.
Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.
Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.