Mold's effect keeps spreading

During the 1990s, fungus was excluded from standard homeowner insurance policies. Now, as the mold craze spreads to offices and apartments, building owners are finding fungus insurance coverage to be less affordable.

"People start worrying about mold at home, and before long, they're worrying about it in the workplace, too," says Loretta Worters, vice president of communications at the Insurance Information Institute, New York. "The [insurance] industry is pretty jittery right now because people have big dollar signs in their eyes and trial lawyers [are] egging them on to go after the deepest pockets available."

Because of a lack of fungus coverage, some building owners are rewriting leases to make tenants responsible for certain damages that could lead to mold problems. But this may spur additional problems.