Amidst the power outages, gas shortages, mass transit shutdowns and school closures left behind in Superstorm Sandy's wake, there's one issue few people are talking about, and that's the cost that homeowners will incur from mold damage.
Aside from the health risks associated with mold from flooding, mold removal is extremely costly and is not covered by most home insurance policies, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The average homeowner could be forced to shell out anywhere from $200 to $30,000 for mold removal. In a recent report on Sandy's destruction obtained by Business Insider, Citi strategist Jeffrey Berenbaum wrote, "mold damage could likely be the largest risk to properties that remain flooded for weeks."
After a natural disaster like Sandy, homes, offices and most enclosed areas that were flooded are at risk of growing bacteria and mold, the New Rochelle Patch reports. If you had water in your house for at least 48 hours, you can expect to find mold growth, according to Newsday.
A musty odor or water stains could indicate that your home is infected with mold, according to the Portchester Patch. Discoloration of the ceiling or walls and warping of the floor are also some of the tell-tale signs as well.
Whether or not mold damage is covered in your homeowners insurance depends on what caused the mold and what policy coverage you have, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance. Some insurance companies have take extra measures to limit their exposure to mold claims with some policies going as far as to have mold exclusions, meaning they don’t cover any costs associated with mold damage or removal. Even if your insurance does cover damage from mold, there is usually a limit placed on mold-related expenses. For around $47 more a year, an additional $50,000 in mold coverage costs can be included in the typical homeowners insurance plan, Bill Wilson, of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, estimates. To find out if mold is covered by your insurer, it is best to read through your policy.
If you think your home has been infected with mold, the Monmouth County Information Office in New Jersey recommends you take an inventory of missing and damage goods, remove wet carpeting right away and clean all hard surfaces.
According to Trulia, the cost of mold removal depends on the amount of damaged materials and the length of time it will take to complete the job.
The high cost of mold removal after natural disasters is something that Americans have had to deal with before. In 2006 after floods hit the U.S., the Federal Reserve had to take action against businesses who were unfairly increasing the price on services like mold removal.
For New Jersey residents who are currently in the process of cleaning up their homes, the Department of Health is making public health experts available by phone to answer any questions about mold removal, the Collingswood Patch writes. The Department of Health also has a list on its website of approved environmental consultants who can assess the cost of mold removal and damage to your home.