Mold Assessments: Value Added or Waste of Money?

Let me set the stage just a bit for this month’s topic: I am a Florida licensed Mold Assessor and Mold Remediator. I am an active member of NORMI and I believe they are a value-added organization, provide great training, and I support most of their initiatives.

I also generally agree with the ANSI IICRC S520 determination that an assessment SHOULD be performed prior to starting remediation – WHEN APPLICABLE.

Here’s the kicker: even though I can make money doing assessments, I generally think they are unnecessary, often extremely vague, inconsistent, and often a waste of an insured’s limited coverage. What? Did I just say that out loud?

The NORMI folks have etched into my brain that “it’s not mold until it tests positively for mold”, and from a liability standpoint I get it. In many cases, mold contamination is obvious, especially for those of us who have been doing this for a while. In cases where it is obvious, I believe an experienced remediator can produce a quality scope of work equal to or greater than an assessor. Equally, experienced remediators are also pretty darn good at identifying cause and origin. In my opinion, in cases where mold contamination is obvious, formal testing prior to remediation is not always necessary. That said – I am a huge fan of Post Remediation Verification (PRV) and I’ll discuss that towards the end of this article.

So why have I chosen this topic for this month’s article? Primarily because I see an increasing number of insurance carriers requiring an assessment prior to any remediation. I believe I understand why. I believe it is because the carrier wants an assessment with protocol so they have some sort of assurance the remediator is not inflating the scope for their own benefit – ok – unfortunately I get that.

BUT, when  you have an insured with $10,000 in mold coverage, you could easily eat up 15%-20% of that allotment in testing fees alone (between the assessment and the PRV). In many cases I feel this is an irresponsible practice. Additionally, requiring an assessment adds more costs than just the testing fees. It is not uncommon for the remediator to employ dehumidification and air filtration to an affected area during the initial inspection.

This equipment remains employed while you wait for the assessment, sometimes for multiple days, and continues running until you receive the assessment results – up to a week in many cases. Now we have 5-7 days’ worth of equipment rental costs eating into the coverage limit as well and remediation has not even begun. The policy some carriers have implemented to save money are likely costing them more in the end. I struggle to find the sense in this.

Now, so I am not ostracized by my friends at NORMI, I will openly agree there are many instances where an assessment is needed, and worth every penny – especially when there are occupant health concerns raised that seem to be related to suspected mold contamination.

As I mentioned previously, whether required or not, I’m a believer in the PRV. At the onset of a remediation, I’m not overly concerned with the types and quantities of mold spores present, but since a remediator’s job is to remove these spores from the property, I feel a PRV, conducted by an entity with no business affiliation to the remediator is a must – or “SHOULD” as indicated by the S-520.

In the end, I feel it should be the remediator’s call when an assessment is, or is not, needed prior to remediation – not the carrier. What are your thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear other perspectives.

A Happy and Prosperous New Year to each of you…

Nasty 7 out.

Scott Walden

Scott WaldenScott Walden is the Chief Operating Officer for VetCor, LLC; a veteran manned and managed insurance services company specializing in mitigation of water loss damage.

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