The cost of homeowners insurance jumped 13 percent last year,
with mold being blamed as the leading cause, a consumer group said
The survey by the Consumer Federation of America reflects the
growing problem mold represents for the insurance industry.
Damage from the inky fungus rarely generated insurance claims
until a few years ago, when the number of claims exploded in Texas
and California, followed by a wave of claims across the country.
Insurers blame the mold complaints for forcing them to raise
rates, while industry critics say a primary reason is insurance
companies seeing their investment revenue shrivel during a weak
The Consumer Federation surveyed state insurance departments in
late 2001 and early 2003 to determine why homeowner's insurance was
Price hikes in 2002 ranged from 4 percent in Oregon to 57 percent
Florida mirrored the national average, with a 12 percent
States listed mold as the leading cause for increases, followed
by catastrophes, investment income decreases and costly
Eleven states listed mold as a reason for their climbing rates,
but Florida was not one of them.
The Sunshine State said natural catastrophes were the main cause
of its 12 percent hike.
Still, mold claims have been on the rise in Florida, and the
state's insurers say mold has been a primary reason they've raised
their rates here, along with sinkhole claims, higher repair costs
and reduced investment revenue, said Sam Miller, spokesman for the
Florida Insurance Council. The trade group has asked state
regulators to exempt insurers from having to cover certain mold
''We're seeing the beginning of that kind of crisis in Florida,''
Miller said, comparing Florida's experience to the first wave of
mold claims in California and Texas.
Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks III contributed to this report,
which was supplemented with Herald wire services.