My dad used to say one can be “insurance poor.” While that statement may be true, we all have insurance of some type and usually many types, including homeowners, auto, health, life, cancer, and the list goes on. We try to protect ourselves from as much financial harm as possible while protecting valuable assets. And have you read your insurance policies, really! And if so, do you completely understand those policies?
It seems when I finally understand a policy, society brings something new and different into the overall picture; for example, mold and meth issues. Does my homeowners cover mold? Well, now policies are specifically mentioning inclusion or exclusion of mold. On to the subject of meth; when residential or rental homes have been used for meth labs, unbeknownst to the buyer, does homeowner’s policies cover testing and decontamination? My first thought is “probably not.” As hard as it is to believe, I just may be wrong. In many cases, property insurance covers the cost of professional decontamination.
Standard policies may include first-party property coverage and also liability coverage. The policy either has “named perils” or “open perils.” Named peril policies show exactly what is included in the dwelling coverage while open peril policies show what is excluded. One named peril included in many policies is vandalism. It will either be listed as a named peril or not excluded in open perils. Smoke damage is normally a covered peril. Just like a kitchen fire, the smoke and fumes from a meth lab leave a similar residue in the structure and on the contents, which need cleaning.
Liability coverage may come into play if a meth lab is busted by a law enforcement agency and condemns the property as inhabitable. If you receive such a notice, you may want to request a coverage determination under both first-party coverage and liability.
I could talk about insurance all day (are you kidding? Yes), but you would probably stop reading at this point. The important thing to remember is to promptly call your insurance and follow up with a letter, best sent certified. Since you may have both first-party coverage and liability, one or both may cover meth cleanup. If you are denied, you need to get the denial in writing and have coverage counsel review it.
Some rental property owners are hesitant to file an insurance claim due to concern they will be dropped, and it is true they could be dropped by their insurance carrier. It is good to research other insurance carriers that will allow coverage. Why have insurance if you cannot use it when you need it?
My friends at Crisis Cleaning will be happy to walk you through the insurance process, taking care of the hassles associated with such claims. Give them a call today if you need help with meth residue contamination (877) 260-4828. You will be glad you did!
(Contribution: The Meth Solution by Donetta J. Held)