Florida homeowner without insurance while trying to close previous mold claim


PALM HARBOR, Fla. – It’s hurricane season in Florida, and the reality is that some homeowners who had existing claims with insurance companies that went into receivership are still without coverage while previous claims are still open.

In March, we caught up with Palm Harbor owner Judy Slater, who discovered mold in several places in the El Pasado condo she had recently moved into.

She had opened a file with her home insurance, Avatar, which went into liquidation soon after. His claim became one of thousands the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) had to recover from companies that had gone bankrupt.

Slater received just over $3,000 from FIGA for part of the interior mold, but the price for the labor needed was closer to $20,000. Slater has been waiting months for his owners’ association with Progressive Management to help him in part.

“It started in March and now we’re in September, and there’s no solution,” Slater told ABC Action News. “I ended up having kidney cancer… then I was in the hospital because I had chest pains. And so it’s been, you know, the old adage you hit your three and it’s a mic drop.

In March, Slater showed us where Progressive Management placed a cone on the sprinkler below her window after she complained that water from the sprinkler was hitting her night after night.

After our story aired, the president of Progressive Management told us in an email on March 17 that they had covered the sprinkler and would repair the wall if necessary, but said the mold had been caused by the windows of Slater, which were his responsibility.

The email also stated: “The the cost of these minor exterior repairs would be less than the insurance deductible. The association is ready to help Mrs. Slater in any way possible.

We waited five months and followed up with three emails asking how they could help Slater.

On August 10, the president told us that their “Association Liability Policy” had denied the claim and they were still waiting to hear from their real estate carrier.

Slater said she received the same information, but it was well over 90 days – the average time to respond to an insurance claim.


It’s September now, the height of hurricane season, and Slater’s house isn’t covered by any homeowners insurance.

“Until the claim is closed, there is no insurance. And then once we get the finalization that the claim is closed and I get the documentation to show the claim is closed, then I can get insurance,” Slater explained. “Discussing with one of the insurance companies, I was initially told that as long as I had a contract, they could proceed with insurance. I was ghosted.

Ghosted means they’ve stopped talking to him, which would make sense for a company that doesn’t want to take over a home with pre-existing issues.

On September 1, Slater withdrew money from his 401k to do the mold remediation.

We went to meet with the remediation company to see the extent of the work, and it turned out there was a lot more mold than they had anticipated.

“There are different containments…we have one for this exterior wall and we have another for the bathroom,” said Josh Martin, co-owner of Elite Restoration in Florida.

He was an insurance adjuster and started this business to help people with water damage, not knowing that most of his work would be like Slater’s condo.

“Probably…80-90% of every job we do ends up being a mold job because by the time we get there, you’re taking the baseboards off, you’re looking at the cabinets, there’s mold everywhere” , said Martin.

He added that he has seen many owners and associations who do not understand their responsibility.

People assume that I think all insurance policies are the same, and that’s not the case,” Martin exclaimed. “There are now 10,000 water caps popping up everywhere… Or even your deductibles. Like for example, State Farm has a deductible percentage… you file a claim and you have a deductible of $14,000 when your kitchen might cost $14,000.

In Slater’s case, we consulted the Florida Condominium Act which states that a homeowners association is responsible for maintaining “common elements” such as the roof and exterior walls shared with other units.

We then spoke with a Florida attorney who represents homeowners in cases like Slater’s, who said an exterior sprinkler causing water to eat paint and enter drywall would be water intrusion. from a common element, which could legally be the responsibility of the HOA.

Unfortunately, Slater’s condo hasn’t passed its first post-remediation air test, so the company will keep working until they find all the mold.

I’m glad you’re in my corner, but if anyone goes through this, they have to be their own advocate… they can’t give up,” Slater said.

Three important lessons every owner should keep in mind:

  • When Buying a Home, Inspectors Look for Water Damage, Not Necessarily Mold
  • Know your property insurance company and your coverage details
  • If you have an HOA, read the statement and know what their responsibilities are

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