Mold and insurance repercussions were a hot topic at this year’s Carolinas Lathing and Plasterering Contractors Association. Speaking on the topic was Jim Byrd, of the South Carolina Department of Insurance. His presentation was humorous and informative.

Byrd said combating mold and fraud requires knowledge and a proactive approach. Fear, media hype and profiteering are a three-pronged nurturer of this ongoing crisis. But why now, when mold is as old as life?

“We are at the tail end of the asbestos claims and some people are seeking a new money source,” Byrd said.

A contractor’s insurance rates are based on the frequency and severity of claims in a particular field. The higher the number of claims, the higher the insurance rate—after all, the insurance companies must charge enough to be profitable. This means charging more than paying in claims.

“The general abuse of the tort system creates the ideal environment for mold suits,” Byrd added, referring to the overall greed that drives people to legal action. “In addition, insurance carriers know nothing about you except the losses and claims in your industry.”

Other contributors to fraud and abuse include abusive practices by mold remediation services and unscrupulous policy adjustors. Also, it’s often cheaper to pay a settlement than to fight a claim in court.

Byrd recommends continuous education about these issues, establishing a relationship with legislatures and simply doing homework. Byrd commended CLAPCA for being proactive in all these areas.