Protecting against the risks of mold from flooding
The recent flooding throughout the country, especially the Northeast, has left behind a hidden problem – mold. Mold will grow and multiply under the right conditions, needing only sufficient moisture in the form of very high humidity, condensation or water, and organic material such as ceiling tile, drywall, paper, carpet or many others around found in a household. Mold growth begins as soon as 12-24 hours after exposure to water and high humidity. Everyone has probably seen mold growing at some time in their home either through water intrusion or even humidity in your bathroom.
Exposure to mold can cause health problems in some people, the most common being allergic responses to breathing mold spores. People with asthma or other pulmonary illnesses, compromised immune systems and the elderly are more likely to develop mold-related illnesses. Serious infections from living molds are relatively rare and occur mainly in people with severely suppressed immune systems.
If your home or business has been flooded you can be certain mold growth will begin immediately. Precautions to take include:
- Thoroughly dry the affected area, this could take days or weeks
- Discard wet carpets and padding
- Sheetrock should be removed at least 12 inches above the visible water line
- Any porous material that absorbed water should be removed, including paneling, upholstered furniture, wallpaper, pillows, mattresses, insulation
- Non-Porous material should be cleaned with a combination of water and bleach and allowed to dry, mixing one to two cups of bleach with a gallon of water
- Material that cannot be cleaned should be placed in sealed plastic bags to prevent the spread of mold and disposed
- People allergic to mold and people with allergies should not participate in mold clean-up
Insurance products exist for the remediation and restoration of properties contaminated with mold. The policies will pay the cost of remediation under the direction of an approved mold remediation contractor and restore the premises to their pre-remediation condition. The products focus on commercial operations and are usually purchased by condominium associations, restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings, office buildings and retail businesses. Coverage can also be extended to any business. Contact WGA for more information.
About the Author
Ray Roach is a Senior Vice President at WGA, with over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. Throughout his career, he has worked with in various aspects of environmental risk and insurance including loss control, underwriting, marketing, product development, captives and alternative risk products.