The Assignment of benefits has been in use for over 100 years. In recent efforts, insurance companies have been trying to eliminate the use of the Assignment of Benefits to alleged “abuse” and “misuse” of the AOB (Assignment of Benefits). We agree that the abuse needs to stop. There are a select few companies and individuals that use the AOB to their benefit and not for the best interest of the clients. We believe the AOB should only be used to benefit homeowners and create a fair playing field for all trusting contractors in our industry.
The use of the Assignment of Benefits ensures that homeowners are able to keep their rights in choosing who their contractors are when dealing with emergency situations (flood, fire, mold). With the elimination of the Assignment of benefits, the insurance companies would be in full control of what company works on a home, how much money is spent, and the time it takes to complete a job. Representatives, lobbyists, and company owners including Richie Kidwell of Air Quality Assessors are working tirelessly to ensure that only just laws are passed and that homeowners and their rights are protected.
In this featured article, Todd Copeland from the Sun Sentinel explains the most recent happenings with the Assignment of Benefits.
Click HERE to view the article.
Toxic Mold Syndrome, also known as mold illness, is an illness that effects many people. When people get sick, they typically assume the causes are allergies, a cold, or a bad reaction to medications. When you notice a dramatic decline in your health, you have to wonder, what is the cause? Very commonly, people blame their poor health on outdoor environments when in reality, they should be considering their indoor environments as the main culprit. Most people spend an average of 90% of their time indoors including time at work, school and at home. This fact alone should initiate further research into your indoor environments.
You may experience symptoms that are similar to colds and common allergies when dealing with Toxic Mold Syndrome including:
· Sore throat
· Runny nose
· Itchy eyes
· And more…
There are more serious health problems related to toxic mold syndrome. In many cases, the above symptoms are just the beginning. Not only does toxic mold syndrome affect your respiratory health, but also your nervous system, circulatory system, skin, vision and mental health. As you can see, mold and any of the symptoms related to mold are all something that should not be taken lightly. It can lead to very serious health issues and even death.
In order to avoid long term health problems related to mold exposure, one would ask what is the real cause of mold growth? The simplest reason mold forms is because of moisture. There are many different forms of moisture that cause mold formation including leaks, condensation, humidity, and flooding. When moisture comes in contact with any and all kinds of organic materials (wood, carpet, clothing, etc.…) mold begins to form. There are many great mold prevention tips listed in our “How to Avoid Indoor Allergens" blog post that are easy and affordable to implement. Doing yearly inspections and taking care of your home overall will help lessen the chance of experiencing health issues related to mold.
There have been many case studies conducted to prove the effects of mold exposure symptoms. In this presented case study individuals that were tested ranged from 1.5 years to 52 years of age. The conclusion was conditional, however those who were involved experienced similar symptoms and reactions. Along with case studies, there are many personal stories, testimonials, and articles that present personal experiences people have had with toxic mold syndrome and mold related sicknesses. There is one story that stands out among all the rest about a woman who is now doing well, but at one point did not know what happened to her or where to turn. Kimberlyn is someone who one day, completely lost her motivation and began to become very confused as to why her personality and normal demeanor completely changed. With multiple doctor visits over 6 months, she started to find out what may be the cause of her sudden life altering ailment. If you are worried that you may be dealing with mold, her story is very relatable and could save you many unnecessary steps.
Ideally, we would like to say that mold will never be an issue in our lives, but that is not the case. Mold is everywhere. It really all depends on how quickly you handle a situation and how serious it is. Our best advice: be mindful of your surroundings and educate yourself on the signs and the steps to take to resolve your mold problem.
Recommended Links: Black Mold
US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
When people think of allergens, they often think of allergic reactions to substances such as pollen, animals and dust. Allergens sometimes get confused with allergies, but the difference between the two, lie within the definitions. Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction. Allergies are the damaging immune system response by the body to a substance. Allergens come in many different forms including those previously listed and more. Since people spend more than 90% of their time indoors, indoor allergens are the main cause of allergies year round. Outdoor allergies happen as the seasons change and as the outdoor allergen levels fluctuate.
Indoor allergy triggers not only include common household allergens such as dust, pollen and animal dander, but also include a small list of unexpected substances. Cockroaches, fabrics, new furniture, and glue are among the many unexpected household allergens. Paint can also trigger allergy-like reactions in people, especially if they are living in a home that was newly painted or with paint that has high volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and dangerous chemicals.
A few factors that play a role in allergen formation:
Humidity: Humidity plays a significant role in whether or not fungi will grow in your home. Fungi, or mold, is a major cause of indoor allergy symptoms and the more you regulate your home’s humidity levels, the least likely mold is to form. Mold can be very dangerous to your health especially for those who are clinically allergic. Recommended humidity levels should fall between 30% - 50%. Condensation and fogging are both signs of high humidity levels and cracking paint; doors or trim are signs of low humidity levels.
Ventilation: It is extremely important to allow your home to have proper ventilation during every season. Opening doors and windows creates proper air flow throughout your home which prevents moisture buildup and stagnant air. Cleaning under rugs and moving furniture that is pressed against walls is also a way to ensure moisture will not accumulate.
Leaks: Check your home for leaks. A common area where leaks can be found is your roof and windows. If you find a leak, put a stop to it as soon as possible because the smallest leak can cause deterioration and significant damage to your home.
There are many ways to reduce indoor allergens with only just a few simple and easy everyday adjustments.
HEPA: Use products with HEPA filters. High-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) are very beneficial to those who are concerned with allergens. There are many different products that contain HEPA filters, but they all aide in the same ways. HEPA filters cleans the air of all the microbial airborne particulates and when vacuuming, ensure that dust and dander do not return into the atmosphere. HEPA filters are also available for central air conditioners which create better indoor air quality overall.
Exhaust Fans: Use exhaust fans in every room where one is provided. This will help with air flow and to remove access moisture from the air.
Carpeting: Carpeting should only be used in rooms where there is not a lot of moisture present. For example, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens should not have carpet due to the presence of water flow from sinks and pipes. A minor leak onto carpet may seem like a small issue, but once moisture comes in contact with materials, mold can form. Remember, it is more difficult to reverse damage than it is to prevent it.
Storage: Always be mindful of how you are storing your seasonal materials. Blankets and clothes should be stored in air tight plastic containers or bags and placed in areas that are not susceptible to high moisture levels. A common issue is when people store their winter materials in their basements during the summer when humidity levels are very high without protective containment. When it comes time to unpack everything, mold has had significant time to form and people are left with musty and moldy belongings.
Outdoor allergens are more difficult to control, but you can help prevent access formations outside your home. To help reduce the effects of outdoor allergens, you must take care of your lawn frequently. Regularly raking and mowing can help reduce the buildup of allergens outside your home. Raking prevents mold growth within leaves and mowing helps reduce the production of pollen. The safest way to prevent buildup is to keep your grass short. Always wear protective gear including gloves, sunglasses, a hat, and long clothes. This will prevent pollen from sticking to you and tracking it into your home. Do yard work either in the morning or evening when pollen counts are the lowest. If you have a severe allergy to outdoor allergens, asking someone to help you with yard work or hiring a company to take over the responsibility will help your allergies greatly.
Recommended Links: AQA Website
Asthma and Allergy Foundation
Very frequently, homeowners have questions about billing, insurance, and their rights when it comes to hiring companies to perform work inside their homes. We want to make sure not only our clients, but everyone is aware of all possible outcomes to ensure all jobs are performed in good faith.
This article presents a recent situation where a homeowner was left battling with their insurance company over 2 years because of a technicality which did not event exist. It’s a GREAT read for a quick lesson learned that could potentially save anyone from a lot of trouble in the wake of an emergency.
Insurance Company’s Defense Based on an Assignment of Benefits Form Fails
Many times, a leak can be an easy fix with just a small replacement or adjustment as needed. Other times, a small leak can stem from a large problem where major damage control is required. If and when you detect a leak in your home or place of business, the issue should be addressed as promptly as possible. Ignoring signs of a leak can cause issues within your home that you can potentially avoid when you respond immediately.
There are many places leaks can occur:
o Water Heater
Leaks can cause minor problems such as and an irritating runny faucet, waste of water, and high water bills. One household can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water per year just from water leaks. That waste not only has a negative impact on the environment, but also your wallet. Common household leaks cause your water bill to rise, which is money out of your pocket that you could have spent otherwise.
Although minor problems can be very troublesome, there are bigger issues that can severely damage your home.
Mold development is one of the most common and most consequential causes of leak damage. Mold can form anywhere moisture is present within 24-48 hours. This is the #1 reason why you need to act quickly when you find a leak because the quicker you get rid of a leak, the less chance mold has to form. To reduce the development of mold, you must control moisture. If mold penetrates an area surrounding a leak, the entire area must be removed to eliminate mold. For example, if you smell a musty odor coming from below your sink, you most likely have a mold problem. Fixing the leak will not get rid of mold, it will still continue to spread because of the existing moisture. Removing the surrounding cupboard and base may be necessary to get rid of mold entirely. This is a must especially because mold is overall very harmful and can cause serious health issues
Structure deterioration is a cause of damage from roof leaks. Chronic roof leaks can cause the wood in your home’s structure and ceilings to deteriorate. Although this can be a slow process, watch for signs of roof leaks such as dark spots in your ceiling. When you see water come through the ceiling and leak onto the floor, this means that the surrounding area within the ceiling is absorbing most of that water. Keep a close watch on even the smallest roof leaks because even one can cause wood to weaken and eventually cause a ceiling collapse.
Electrical issues can also be a factor in assessing damage from water leaks. As your household leaks pass through and comes in contact with many interiors, it will most likely reach the electrical components of your home. Uncovered wires and outlet framework can easily cause shock and even fires when coming in contact with water. It only takes one small spark to cause an entire building to burn down. Flooding can also be a factor in carrying electrical currents and causing a fire. Act quickly if you ever find yourself in a flood and turn off your electricity in the flooded areas. This can prevent your entire home from burning down and even prevent death.
To avoid major issues and costly repairs take care of leaks in your home or business facility immediately! Ignoring what might look like a small issue can uncover extreme structural damage and can even cause harm to those around it. Call your local leak detection service company at the first sign of a leak.
AQA Website - Leak Detection Services
Environmental Protection Agency
Alliance for Water Efficiency
Mold Awareness Month is among us in its 7th consecutive year to raise awareness about the health risks linked to the presence of mold. With that being said, we would like to inform you of how important it is to be aware of mold in your surroundings, and how to solve your mold problem from start to finish.
Keeping your home safe and mold free contributes greatly to the health of your family members and the prosperity of your home. Mold comes in many forms and can grow in many different places. Mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present, which means mold can grow almost EVERYWHERE.
Mold is omnipresent and you may have noticed that you’ve always seen it around. This could cause you to question, “I’ve never felt the effects of mold, what makes it dangerous?” Reactions to mold sometimes don’t happen instantly. The immediate (Level 1) symptoms of mold exposure are sometimes the same as cold symptoms & common ailments such as headaches, watery eyes, sneezing and vomiting. The second stage of mold exposure symptoms (Level 2) include chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, ear infections and even bronchitis. The most advanced (Level 3) symptoms which give mold its nickname “the silent killer” are blindness, brain damage, cancer and death. All of the above symptoms can be prevented by having your home inspected and properly remedied.
Below are the steps to take if you find your home may have a mold problem:
5 STEPS TO SOLVING YOUR MOLD PROBLEM
Step 1: Write down which areas in your home may have mold and what the mold looks like. This information will be requested is important to have on hand.
Step 2: Call your homeowner’s insurance company to find out what mold coverage you have within your policy. You may also need to contact your Homeowners Association and ask if certain areas in your home covered under them, or your personal insurance.
Step 3: Call your local mold detection service company and set up an appointment to have your home checked. This process is known as a Pre-Remediation Assessment. Be sure to only use a certified mold inspector.
Step 4: After the results are in, choose a remediation company to extract the mold from your home. This process is called Mold Remediation. Again, be sure to only use a certified/licensed remediation company to ensure the proper removal of materials containing mold.
Step 5: Schedule a Post Remediation Verification Assessment to obtain a Clearance Certificate to allow new construction (carpet replacement, building, etc.…) to begin and to ensure all mold is removed.
After these 5 steps, you will have the relief of knowing that you are living in a mold-free environment. Not only is it important to be aware of mold issues in your home, but it can also be an issue in buildings of any kind including businesses, churches, schools and restaurants. Be sure to take care of mold issues at the earliest sign, as this can make all the difference to protect those around you and your investments.
Recommended Links: Air Quality Assessors Website