Insurance and Mould - Did you know?

Structural damage to buildings as a result of fungus, i.e. Mould and mildew are probably not covered by your home insurance policy.

See below two excerpts from the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) that Elders Insurance provides. This PDS covers all types of personal Insurance, including Home and contents.

Page 12 of the PDS relates to Section 1 - Home and Contents. Here Elders describes what you are covered for. However, Point 3. (e) highlights that you are not covered "for loss or damage resulting from or caused by fungus, mildew, mould, algae."

Page 23 (bottom) and 24 (top) further mention... "There is no cover under any section of your Policy for any...mould, mildew..."

Why is this the case?

The appearance of Mould and mildew is preventable, through regular cleaning, maintaining good airflow, and keeping materials dry, so its development is considered to be the result of neglectful home maintenance. Point 4 on Page 13 of Suncorps' Home and Contents Insurance PDS states "keep the home structurally sound....(e.g. remove mould...). See below.

Under points 23 and 37 of the PDS for Youi, insurance cover will also not be provided if your home is not kept in good condition and damage is caused by Mould.

Your Home Insurance Policy with NRMA is conditional in that they do not cover "loss, damage, injury or death arising not maintaining your home in good repair and condition" (p. 68).

An important point to highlight is that for Suncorp, Youi and NRMA, who by the way has a very well set out PDS, Mould is only covered if it is found to be the direct result of a listed incident that they have accepted a claim for. See dot point 6 below for an example.

An incident is defined on page 11 of Youi's PDS as, "an unforeseen, unintended, and unexpected event which occurs suddenly and at a specific place and time." So, sudden Mould growth on your building (that was not present before) immediately following a flood in tropical North Queensland qualifies as a plausible claim, while structural damage from Mould that has been allowed to grow for years is not, as seen in the image below.

Real Estate Customer: Kirwan, QLD

Mould are a fungi that produce a fruiting body. Mushrooms are the most commonly known type of fungi which feed on decaying organic matter in humid environments, as all fungi do, making them prolific inhabitants of shaded gardens and rainforest environments where they break down organic matter to create rich humus for other plants to feed on.

Decaying organic matter is found within dirt and dust and consists of leaves, sticks, insects, etc. Wind transports it and people, cars, animals, and plants move it around our environment. Once Mould has landed on the organic matter sitting on your roof, building walls, driveway, paved or aggregate pool area it begins to feed. The moisture in our humid climate accelerates Mould growth and before you know it, especially after a solid rain spell, a grey/black blanket appears i.e. a Mould colony has established itself.

House Beautiful describes 12 types of Mould here. Stachybotrys is the Black Mould that we generally see, as in the previous and next two photos.

"Corrosion" is a word that caught my eye while reading page 67 of the NRMA PDS and this is exactly what Mould will facilitate if left to continue to grow and spread. When cleaning the pavers for a beautiful couple who had lived in their Douglas home for 20 years, I felt seriously worried that it was our fault that the residual water from using the rotowash was full of orange sand! However, photos supported Chris's expert knowledge and proved me wrong as you will soon see ;-)

In the following photos you will see how along the house wall to the left, there is a line of dark blue and orange pavers. If it was us dislodging the grains of sand, I believe that this line would have become light afterwards.

Customer: Douglas, QLD

Instead, after our clean colours seem to return... and the pavers along the house wall actually look less porous - that's while taking into consideration the shadow that is being cast as well. Check out the dark orange paver jutting out to the lower left. In the photo above it was covered in a black patch of Mould ;-)

Customer: Douglas, QLD

While we all know that Mould exists and are developing our understanding of it's impact on our built environments, what we know very little about is a bacteria that impacts them in much the same way. There is a lot of Gloeocapsa magma in Far North Queensland and we often mistake it for Mould due to its dark hue.

What we are looking at here is a heavy Gloeocapsa magma colonisation - approximately 10 years worth :-O

Customer: Kelso, QLD

Gloeocapsa magma is a photosynthesizing cyanobacteria that we find occurring naturally in our river systems. This ancient plant ancestor is spread by our wild life through their excrement, particularly by birds who drink from the river and let one go as they fly over our roofs. Yuk! More often than not, it is "Gleo" that we are encountering on each roof that we attend to quote on.

The next 3 photos are close ups of the how this bacteria can destroy the material it lives on, as Mould does, when allowed to stay on your roof surface and colonise.

Customer: Kelso, QLD

Gloeocapsa magma attaches, breaks through, dislodges, tears apart and peels away the surface, then begins to spread and repeat the same process on the structural materials underneath. Ouch!

Customer: Kelso, QLD

The paint is peeled back leaving the Colourbond metal underneath exposed to our intense tropical climate, sending an invite for water and eventually rust to join the party.

Customer: Kelso, QLD

Thankfully these lovely homeowners decided to do something to stop the process and preserve both the condition and value of their home and greatest asset.

Customer: Kelso, QLD

They called on us to give their roof the TLC it needed. Our Softwash cleaning solution is made up of a gentle multi-purpose soap, a bio-degradable degreaser detergent and fungicide that are precisely measured for optimal results in treating Mould and bacteria.

First the roof was treated with an even coating of our solution. It was then allowed to sit to work it's magic and break through the thick, tough and sticky UV protective outer coating and kill the bacteria beneath.

The severity of the Gloeocapsa magma warranted the use of "Svetsy" at low pressure to lift and remove the bulk of the debris.

A final residual treatment was then applied to prevent any immediate re-infestation. With time, the dead organic matter will release its grip on the roof and flake away with the wind and rain, preserving structural material underneath.

Customer: Kelso, QLD

If you need to speak with a professional regarding the details of your insurance coverage, we highly recommend Rosalyn Sarkies of Elders Insurance, located on Martinez Ave, West End, QLD. Rosalyn is a very down-to-earth and knowledgable person who will happily answer any of your questions obligation-free.

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