Fla. Homeowner Files Lawsuit, Asks Allstate to Pay $10,000 for Mold Damage

March 14, 2005

A Florida homeowner has filed a lawsuit against Allstate Insurance to collect $10,000, accusing the company of failing to pay for mold damage after Hurricane Charley.

The lawsuit brought by homeowner Luann Guy of Cape Coral, Fla. alleges that Allstate did not inform her about mold coverage and never sent an inspector out to look for the destructive fungi. She’s suing the company for breach of contract, claiming she hasn’t received any of the $10,000 policy limit for mold.

According to the lawsuit, Guy’s home sustained water intrusion that resulted in mold and dry-rot damage after Charley hit.

“Specifically, her residence sustained damage as a result of water intrusion when portions of the roof were blown away, as well as water entering the residence from other sources,” the lawsuit states. “Soon thereafter, her residence became infested with mold.”

Guy is asking for compensatory damages up to the amount of the mold policy limit of $10,000, attorneys’ fees and certain court costs, court records show.

Ryan Priest, a spokesman for Allstate Floridian Insurance Corp., told the Fort Myers News-Press that Allstate’s corporate headquarters in Illinois has been notified about the lawsuit.

Allstate spokesman Ryan Priest said he couldn’t comment on whether Guy’s policy contained the $10,000 mold remediate cap provision, or whether it is a boilerplate component of all homeowner’s insurance policies here.

“We have not had an opportunity to examine the filing, so we can’t comment at this time,” Priest said.

The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers. Guy, an Allstate homeowner’s policyholder, brought the lawsuit individually and on behalf of yet-to-be-determined class members.

Valerie Beynon, a spokeswoman for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, said there is no law in Florida requiring insurance companies to cover mold remediation costs up to $10,000. However, she said insurance companies have set a precedent by offering this coverage in plans.

“Mold resulting from a covered peril is a covered claim in homeowners policies only in the event of a sudden and accidental discharge of water … ,” according to a homeowner’s insurance brochure by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

Hurricane Charley struck Southwest Florida on Aug. 13, damaging thousands of homes. Other parts of the state were pummeled by later storms Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

Since Hurricane Charley, Florida’s Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services has received 4,479 complaints about problems with Allstate insurance. Of these, 749 were mold-related, spokeswoman Tami Torres said. Of 4,479 complaints, 314 remain open.

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