Florida is seeing a substantial climb in mold-related insurance claims. Allstate Corp. reported a 25 percent increase in the past year, and State Farm Insurance claims jumped from 83 in 2000 to 700 in 2001.

"More and more occurrences of mold are being reported in Florida, mostly because people here are becoming more aware of what mold is and the adverse effects it can have on their health," said Brian L'Hommedieu, CMR, president of MicrOscope Inc., a mold remediation company.

Fifty Florida insurance companies have joined firms nationwide asking state regulators late last year to limit their mold liability.

According to Steve Roddenberry, deputy director of the Florida Department of Insurance, the state has not yet approved any mold exclusion endorsements. The state treasurer intends to hold hearings throughout the state on whether or not mold should receive insurance coverage and under which circumstances.

Currently, most Florida insurance companies cover mold damage only when it relates to a "covered peril," such as a hurricane or windstorm, but not construction defects or water leaks.