Mold Insurance Expertise

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Issue: Though mold has probably been around since the beginning of time, it received prominence in part following the Ballard case in Texas. Since that decision, mold has become one of the hot insurance topics for both insureds and insurers. Mold claims can arise from faulty construction, storm damage, fire, ice, frozen water pipes, leaking plumbing and burst water heaters, to name just a few. Though mold is generally excluded today in most first party property coverage forms (both personal and commercial) there may be coverage (in a first party situation) if a covered cause of damage is connected to the mold. In third party circumstances, mold claims parallel other third party claims in that: (i) coverage; (ii) damages; and (iii) legal liability must all be assessed.

Regulatory: Mold Claim Expertise.From a regulatory perspective, my expertise as to these matters can be found in my career positions, including:

  • Commissioner of Insurance (Iowa),
  • First Deputy Commissioner of Insurance,
  • Member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Member of its Executive Committee;
  • Administrative Law Judge, f/k/a Hearing Officer – at the Department of Insurance (IA), and
  • Assistant Attorney General assigned on a full time basis to the Department of Insurance.

In those capacities, on a daily basis, I had full regulatory oversight and responsibility for and I dealt directly with (i) policy language as it relates to mold, typically in a homeowners or commercial property policy, (ii) claims handling obligations of insurers – in particular under the unfair claims practices act and (iii) regulatory considerations that come to bear on an insurer’s handling of a mold case.

Mold Expertise: Legislative.[1]  In addition to my regulatory background, I have served or am serving in the following capacities, each of which included daily knowledge of and interaction with (i) policy language as it relates to mold, typically in a homeowners or commercial property policy, (ii) claims handling obligations of insurers – in particular under the unfair claims practices act and (iii) regulatory considerations that come to bear on an insurer’s handling of a mold case.

  • Legal Counsel to the Iowa House of Representatives;
  • Chief of Staff at the U.S. House of Representatives,
  • Elected Member of the Florida House of Representatives (currently)[2] where I serve as a Member and Vice Chairman of the Insurance Committee (among other committees), which has legislative oversight over all insurance operations in the state (as administered by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation – “FL-OIR”) including those relating to policy coverages as to mold and other matters;
  • In addition, I have sat on and served as Vice Chairman of the Civil Justice Subcommittee of the Florida House, which has responsibilities as to Florida laws that establish (among other things) liability,

Mold Expertise: Industry.In addition to my regulatory background and my legislative background as to commercial property matters, I have served or am serving in the following capacities within the insurance industry, each of which included daily knowledge of and interaction with (i) policy language as it relates to mold, typically in a homeowners or commercial property policy, (ii) claims handling obligations of insurers – in particular under the unfair claims practices act and (iii) regulatory considerations that come to bear on an insurer’s handling of a mold case.

  • American Academy of Actuaries, Washington, D.C., where I served as General Counsel and Chief Lobbyist;
  • President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), a major U.S. property casualty insurance company doing business throughout the United States, including Virginia. NCCI employs about 1,000 personnel.  While CEO, this position entailed responsibility for pricing some $100 billion of property casualty insurance premium;
  • Attorney practicing primarily in the area of insurance and reinsurance and admitted to practice in Florida, Illinois[3] and Iowa (all upon examination) with an insurance practice;

Mold Expertise: Reinsurance Arbitrator.In addition to my regulatory background and my legislative background and my industry background as to mold issues, I have served or am serving in the following reinsurance arbitration capacities, which included daily knowledge of and interaction with (i) policy language as it relates to mold, typically in a homeowners or commercial property policy, (ii) claims handling obligations of insurers – in particular under the unfair claims practices act and (iii) regulatory considerations that come to bear on an insurer’s handling of a mold case.

  • Nationally certified Reinsurance Arbitrator (ARIAS-US), where I sit as an arbitrator on disputes between (among others) insurers and their reinsurers,
  • Nationally certified Insurance Arbitrator (ARIAS-US), where I sit as an arbitrator on disputes between (among others) insurers and their insureds.

Mold Expertise: Attorney. In addition to my regulatory, industry, legislative and insurance arbitration and reinsurance arbitration background, I have served or am serving in the following legal capacities, each of which included daily knowledge of and interaction with (i) policy language as it relates to mold, typically in a homeowners or commercial property policy, (ii) claims handling obligations of insurers – in particular under the unfair claims practices act and (iii) regulatory considerations that come to bear on an insurer’s handling of a mold case.

  • As stated above, I am an attorney admitted to practice in Florida, Illinois and Iowa (all upon examination) with an insurance practice;
  • Legal Counsel to the Iowa House of Representatives;
  • Practicing attorney at Hager & Schachterle, Des Moines, Iowa;
  • Iowa Counsel to the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America (PCIAA) whose member insurers sold coverages relating to mold;
  • Legal Counsel to the Professional Insurance Agents of Iowa (property casualty agents) whose agents sold property coverage, among other coverages;
  • Legal Counsel to the Iowa Association of Life Underwriters (life, health and annuity insurance agents).
  • Practicing attorney (currently) in Florida at the Hager Law Firm;
  • General Counsel and Chief Lobbyist to the American Academy of Actuaries;

Mold: Additional Expertise, Formal Education. In addition to my regulatory and legislative and industry and insurance arbitration and reinsurance arbitration and legal background, my formal education was beneficial in forming the expert opinions in this matter.  That education is as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree in mathematics (secondary mathematics education);
  • Master’s degree in educational psychology;
  • Juris Doctorate degree, University of Illinois;

Mold Additional Expertise, Certifications and Licensure. In addition, certain of my certifications and licensures support my expertise as to this matter:

  • Florida Bar, by examination;
  • Illinois Bar, by examination;
  • Iowa Bar, by examination;
  • Supreme Court of the United States, admitted to practice;
  • Certified Reinsurance Arbitrator; and
  • Certified Insurance Arbitrator;

Contact Bill Hager at 561-306-5072 or via email to discuss your case.

End Notes

[1]  My background at both the U.S. Congress and with the Florida House of Representatives could be construed as regulatory in nature but I include it here under my non-regulatory experience because it seems to be a better fit.  In addition to these legislative positions, I have also served as Deputy Mayor and Member of the City Council of the City of Boca Raton, Florida, where I headed up the Council’s insurance oversight function. 

[2] I am currently serving my 6th year in the Florida House of Representatives as of April 2016.

[3] This Illinois license is in inactive status, placed there by me at my volition and eligible for reactivation at any point in time upon my request.  I am in good standing at the Illinois Bar, as well as the balance of the states where I am admitted.