Monday, June 05, 2006

WMD Insurance

My auto insurance policy came up for renewal recently. O don't normally pay much attention to the policy itself and just pay the bills as they come but this time I noticed something strange under the "Endorsements attached to your policy" section:

Nuclear, Bio-Chemical & Mold Exclusion Endorsement

It struck me as very odd, indeed. I can understand the nuclear, biological and chemical things being itemized together, but mold??? How does mold rank up there with the risks from Weapons of Mass destruction? I called my insurance provider and got the following details:

Aside from such losses caused by terrorism activities, we do not provide coverage for loss, damage, injury, liability, cost or expense, due to or as a consequence of, whether controlled or uncontrolled or however caused:

a. Nuclear Exposure, reaction or explosion including resulting fire, smoke, radiation or contamination; and/or
b. Biological or chemical attack or exposure to biological or chemical agents, or combination of such agents, including resulting contamination or pollution.

We do not provide coverage for loss, damage, injury, liability, cost or expense arising out of or aggravated by, in whole or in part, "mold, fungus, wet rot, dry rot, bacteria or virus."

"Mold, fungus, wet rot, dry rot, bacteria or virus" means any type or form of fungus, rot, virus or bacteria. This includes mold, mildew and any mycotoxins, other microbes, spores, scents or byproducts produced or released by mold, mildew, fungus, rot, bacteria, or virus.

Now, I can see how this was put together. There was at one time an exclusion for mold. I imaging the most likely instance of this would be a car with the windows left open getting wet and developing that funky mildew smell. Or perhaps, the car gets caught in a flood and, while the engine survives, the upholstery does not. But after 9/11 they felt compelled to add something about not covering the hot-button fears of the day. I still haven't figured out why they categorized it with mold except that the exception shared similar language.

And I particularly like the language at the end where it says, essentially, "when we say mold, we mean mold. And fungus means fungus."

If my car gets nuked by Al Qaeda then I'm covered because it's an act of terrorism. But, if Iran declares war on the US and my car gets nuked in the ensuing melee, it's not covered because it wasn't an act of terrorism. If I park my car next to a nuclear power plant and it melts down; not covered. If a tanker truck full of mustard gas crashes on the highway, inundating my car; not covered. If an avian flu infected bird takes a dump on the hood; not covered. Body in the trunk bloats and festers with rot and disease; not covered. Attacked by triffids? Coverage would depend on whether a triffid is considered an animal, an ambulatory fungus or some other sort of animated carnivorous plant. By insurance company logic, I'm sure they'd find a way to deny coverage in either case.


Mikey said...

the mold addition is a direct result of hurricane Katrina. Thousands of houses in LA are now uninhabitable becasue of the mold. So in classic insurance style, they now refuse to cover it.

also, out here in the Pacific Northwest, mold is a huge problem becasue of the wet, mild weather. our insurance doesn't cover it either.

Der Geis said...

In point of fact, the policy shows that the Nuclear, Bio-Chemical & Mold Exclusion Endorsement was added in April of 2005, well before last year's hurricane season and Katrina. Unless they has some sort of insight into the future (say, they listened to the people warning that global warming would generate more powerful storms) this is just the general inclinations of insurance companies to avoid paying out for anything.