Over the last ten to fifteen years the issue of mold has significantly made its way into insurance news headlines. New reports have been scattered with stories of people becoming mysteriously ill and looking to mold as the culprit. Mold is actually a broad term as there is more than one type and some are good and some are not good. What most people don’t understand is that some type of mold is going to be found in every home where there is rain and heat. No home is absolutely 100% waterproof and all homes are exposed to heat of some sort. Mold is all around us on planet earth. It is an important part of the ecosystem except when it gets in the home. The four most common types of mold:
○ Alternaria – This mold is primarily found outdoors, but being airborne, can easily enter the home settling in carpets, drapes and clothing. It does not require much water to grow and will thrive where there is a continuous water source. Its spores are known to cause respiratory problems.
○ Penicillium – This is the green stuff you see on cheese and other foods that have not been stored properly or are out of date. Eating food with Penicillium can cause gastric problems and its spores can cause allergic reactions.
○ Aspergillus – Probably the most common mold, Aspergillus is also one of the most dangerous. It usually appears after a basement is flooded or a large plumbing leak. This bad-boy metabolizes allergens known as mycotoxins. It also produces aflatoxin, which is one of the deadliest carcinogens known to man. It is severely dangerous for those persons who are immunosuppressed.
○ Cladosporium – Though usually found outdoors, this mold can thrive indoors where there is a damp and dark environment. If you find small, black, flakes that look like pepper in your toilet, it is most likely cladosporium. Though not considered toxic, it can cause respiratory issues also.
Mold is also hazardous to the value of your home, although the amount of devaluation is subjective, severe cases of an infestation will pretty much make your home unsellable. Most homeowners go first to their insurance company looking for financial relief but, the claims adjuster will in most cases determine that the mold is the result of poor maintenance or of a prolonged water leak and the claim will be denied. Insurance companies have been responding to mold claims with new language in the policy that will either limit coverage for mold or exclude it altogether.
If you suspect that you have a mold problem, do not delay!