That Texas has the highest homeowners insurance rates in the nation isn't surprising given the high incidence of hail, flood and tornado damage. What is surprising is that Texas accounts for the vast majority of mold claims.
Among the causes for the mold frenzy are poor design, poor ventilation and construction surfaces that do not weep. Add to that poor home maintenance, greedy cleanup companies and personal injury lawyers and you have a cauldron of problems.
Two factors set Texas apart on mold: expansive coverage for water damage and elaborate and expensive procedures for mold cleanup.
Our standard and unique homeowners policy provides coverage for continuous water leaks. The policy has become a property damage, health insurance and home maintenance program all rolled into one and Texans are paying handsomely for this Cadillac coverage.
Second, we are the only state that has public adjusters. These adjusters can virtually name their own price and procedure for mold removal. The old practice of ripping out drywall, tile and insulation, drying and bleaching the surfaces and replacing the shower pan has given way to guys in moon suits using "ghost buster" techniques to rid homes of mold spores.
The solutions to containing mold are manyfold: Homeowners need to be taught how to inspect their home and prevent water leaks. Insurers need to respond in a more timely fashion. Certain construction materials should be discouraged. Mold removers need to be trained and certified, and policyholders should be allowed to decide if and how much mold coverage they want to buy. Texas homeowners, who have never filed a claim, are paying for a problem that has gotten way out of hand.
Jon Opelt, Houston Director
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse,
Member, Texas Insurance Commissioner's Mold Task Force