Mold is a type of fungus. Fungi is the term to use for molds, mildews, mushrooms, rusts, smuts and yeast. Molds or fungi can be found basically anywhere. It can can grow as long as moisture and oxygen are present. No one knows exactly how many types of mold exist but it is estimated to be in the tens of thousands to approximately three hundred thousand or more. They produce millions of nearly invisible spores that can spread and become airborne. Mold can grow on wood, wall paper, walls, ceilings, carpet, tiles, grout, duct work, insulation, and foods. Mold grows when there is water damage, high humidity and dampness in a property's environment. This is why it is crucial to properly dry water damage immediately within 24-48 hours to prevent mold.
Hidden mold can be difficult to detect and can be found growing inside duct work, within walls and ceilings, in attics, under carpets and flooring. The rule of thumb is if you see (1) one square foot of visible mold there's a high probability to find (10) ten square feet on the other side; hidden. After water damage mold can be found in many places, and regardless of the color or species type, mold should always be remediated and removed following the accepted Mold Removal Guidelines. The color of the mold to the naked eye cannot tell you whether it’s toxic or not. With over one million species, mold comes in about any size, shape, and color, making it almost impossible to tell what type of mold you have without a proper microscope and lab test which should be performed by a qualified and certified mold specialist.
Toxic mold can come in many colors (not just black) and black mold is not always toxic. Certain conditions must be met for the toxins to be produced.
Molds are known to produce allergens, irritants, and even toxins. Some people are known to experience a variety of health problems, such as mild or severe headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and worsen the symptoms of asthma.
The types and severity of symptoms depend on the type of mold present, the extent of an individual's exposure, age, and existing conditions or allergies. The most vulnerable are children and the elderly along with anyone with a compromised immune system, such as people currently undergoing chemotherapy. Should your property contain high levels of mold it is best to properly seal all contaminated areas including AC vents and stay away from the contaminated environment.
Mold Remediation Experts and Third Party Vendors
It is important to ask for a detailed explanation and fully understand how an expert will handle the mold problem. Exposed areas need to be contained and HVAC system needs to be properly sealed. Negative air machines and HEPA filters are placed in contaminated and contained areas affected. Mold experts wear respirators and protective clothing, during the process.
Insurance companies hire third party vendors such as Contractors and Restoration companies in order to keep their claim costs down. Usually these vendors agree to do the required repairs for less than the usual market pricing using the lowest quality material possible. You are NOT obligated to use their vendors for any repairs to your home, although most vendors attempt to confuse property owners by tying them up to a contract. Do NOT sign any paperwork or contracts without consulting with an expert that represents your best interest. Most insurance companies will pay claims based on their vendor’s estimates. During the negotiation process our experienced Public Adjusters work hard to get the maximum compensation for your loss.
Be aware during a large catastrophic event, such as a storm or hurricane, some contractors and restoration companies may solicit property owners into placing a claim on their own without any proper representation and get them to sign a contract to use their restoration company for repairs. We don't recommend hiring contractors and restoration companies to represent you with your claim as they are not knowledgeable about policy coverage nor licensed to do so.
Claims can be compromised by these individuals and you might find yourself not fully compensated for all the coverage that applies to the loss. An under paid claim can mean several thousands of dollars in compensation that may never be recovered because the contracting companies aren’t insurance policy experts. These companies will be paid for their work, even if they used cheaper materials and cut corners, and you in turn might not be fully compensated. The insurance company would be minimizing their claim payout and will NOT make you aware of this. This is why we recommend to get us on board to ensure you are fully compensated, and keep you educated about the entire claim's process. We work hard to recover the proper and satisfactory compensation for you. To give you complete control of the recovered funds so that you can request competitive bids from vendors of your choosing. Only you should have the right to choose the best vendor for the job as opposed to dealing with a vendor that has an arrangement with the insurance company which will only give you the bare minimum in their estimate and repairs.
Attorneys are also third party representatives that can be hired to represent your interest in litigation procedures against the insurance company; however, an attorney is NOT an insurance loss expert and doesn’t physically do an inspection on your property or prepare an estimate of the loss. They usually rely on hired contractors or even on your insurance company’s adjuster estimate; which can possibly lead to lower settlement outcomes due to lack of expertise in loss damages to the property. Attorneys are law experts, but not insurance loss experts. An attorney is not as familiar with all the different claims and scenarios as a Public Adjuster, who comes into contact with damaged properties and claims on a daily basis. It is not always necessary to get an attorney involved until it is time to file lawsuit usually after the initial claim is made, carefully documented by the Public Adjuster, and has been unfairly denied or underpaid by the insurance company.
Cleaning Up Mold Without A Professional
Should you be determined to handle your mold problem without any expert help, it is crucial that you understand the potential dangers.
First, figure out why you have a problem and fix the source before you clean up the mold. Mold requires water to grow therefore you need to eliminate the moisture source. Sources can include roof leaks, landscaping sprinklers, gutters which can direct water into or under a building, hidden plumbing leaks, HVAC leaks, or water heater leaks. Delays or lack of maintenance can cause moisture problems. It is your duty to perform or hire professionals to do routine inspections and maintenance of your property periodically.
Second, start to carefully cleanup. Dispose all debris in a sealed plastic bag for safety precautions. If you see mold growing on walls, carpets, floors or baseboards, etc., DO NOT rush in and start tearing off the materials. An improper attempt to remediate mold can create an even bigger problem. If you tear out without sealing possibly contaminated areas such as sealing up doors and HVAC vents without venting room air to the outside through a HEPA filter, without covering floor, walls and even the ceilings with plastic, and without wearing a powered respirator, you might be:
♠ Releasing millions of invisible spores into the air and into your ventilation system
♠ Exposed to a large dose of potentially toxic fungi
♠ Contaminating unprotected areas such as personal belongings
♠ Most importantly placing your family at risk
We recommend a professional for mold removal but should you decide to do it yourself please be careful and extremely cautious. Consider taking a class, do your research, talk to professionals and learn the right and wrong way before you begin!
Ways To Prevent Mold
♠ Repair leaks ASAP.
♠ Look for condensation and wet areas.
♠ Dry wet areas within 24-48 hours.
♠ Periodic inspections and maintenance to building, roof, gutters, plumbing and HVAC system.
♠ Maintain HVAC clean, change filters often and keep drip pans clean and unobstructed.
♠ Properly vent moisture generating appliances to the outside such as, dryers and range hoods.
♠ Maintain low indoor humidity, keep between 30-60%.
♠ Provide proper ground slope and drainage to keep water away from your foundation.
♠ Prevent condensation with insulation or increased air circulation.
♠ Clean showers and tubs often to prevent mildew growth.
♠ Keep closet doors open so air can circulate properly.
♠ Use fans to circulate air.
♠ Control moisture, increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
Don't Have A Mold Problem...How To Keep It That Way!
Mold will begin to grow in wet material within 24 to 48 hours. Therefore, any kind of leak or water intrusion should be stopped immediately. Areas that have been wet for longer than 48 hours, have a greater possibility of mold being present. You should proceed accordingly and with caution in areas that have sustained water damage, specifically if they have been wet longer than a week.
What Is Bad Faith Insurance?
Examples of an Insurance Company's Bad Faith Conduct:
♠ Wrongfully denies a legitimate claim with no basis
♠ Wrongfully claims your loss is not covered
♠ Unreasonably delays claim or payment
♠ Offers unreasonably low settlement unsupported by facts
♠ Fails to promptly or adequately investigate a claim
♠ Improperly interprets your policy language
♠ Ignores the facts of a loss and your rights as a policyholder
♠ Blames your loss on events other than the real cause of loss
♠ Advises you not to hire a Public Adjuster for representation
♠ Tries to settle for an inadequate amount and less than what is covered
♠ Making wrongful threats to drop your coverage or deny your claim
All too often, insurance companies fail to live up to their promises to policyholders, deny claims, undervalue the loss, downplay available coverage and ignore substantial evident facts of the loss.
Whether your insurance company wrongfully denied a legitimate claim, has delayed payment or has made an unreasonably low settlement offer, we are here to represent you and assist you in recovering what is rightfully owed to you.
Don’t Commit Insurance Fraud
Remember to always be honest and truthful: an insured, or someone seeking insurance coverage, always needs to remember that even an innocent error or misstatement in an application for insurance or a materially false statement on any insurance claim form may be used as a basis to deny your claim. Always be truthful. You can face civil and criminal penalties for filing false claims or attempting to defraud an insurance company. Below are a few tips to ensure you act in good faith during your claims process.
♠ Always be honest. If you can’t remember something, be honest, there's nothing wrong with not remembering details or dates, but don't guess or make anything up.
♠ Don’t fabricate documents or receipts. If your insurance company is requesting documents you no longer have in your possession or have misplaced simply let us know in order to inform your insurance company. Insurance companies have access to a large data base system that provides them with all previous claim information from any prior insurance company.
♠ Denied claim: don’t open a “new claim” with a different insurance company for the same loss. This is considered fraud. The correct way to handle denials is to allow a Public Adjuster to review your loss and decide if you have a possible claim that can be resubmitted to the insurance company that originally denied you. We may be able to reopen a denied claim with your previous insurance company even if you no longer have the same company.
♠ Didn't receive sufficient payment on a loss, don’t open a "new claim" to recover the difference of what is owed to you. Insurance companies will know that you sustained a loss and will investigate fully the extent of the loss. They will contact your previous insurance company to request all documentation including photographs of your previous loss. If you have been previously paid for a loss and you feel you were not fully compensated you might be entitled to reopen the claim. We might be able to "reopen" your claim just as long as you are within the statutes of limitations set forth by the state of Florida, didn’t receive payment through an appraisal award nor have you signed a release of claim to the insurance company.
♠ Immediately repair all leaks in your property to avoid further damages. Leak repairs that have been prolonged for a length of time not considered reasonable will be denied by your insurance company. It is your duty not the insurance company's responsibility to maintain and protect your property. It would be misleading and defrauding an insurance company to open a new claim as a sudden occurrence for a leak that has been ongoing for example a year or two without the proper immediate attention to repair. On the other hand, if the leak was properly repaired at the time and you were left with residual damages arising from the leak you might be entitled to compensation for repairs.
STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT OBTAINING YOUR OWN
♠ PUBLIC INSURANCE ADJUSTER ♠
RESULTS IN ACHIEVING HIGHER INSURANCE CLAIM SETTLEMENTS