This might be the absolute strangest homeowners insurance claim that I have ever heard of! A rare form of fungus devoured a house that was located in California. The couple who owned it filed a claim to their insurance company. At first, SafeCo said they would cover it, but, after the repairs were made, SafeCo pretty much changed its mind about that.
There is a strange fungus that actually can eat wood. It is called Poria incrassata, and it is triggered by water. This fungus is voracious and is quite capable of devouring an entire house a short amount of time. This is exactly what happened to the home of Judy and Walter Moore, who live in Southern California.
Suddenly, this fungus, that resembles a rising loaf of french bread, was growing through the floor boards of their home. It went on to eat right through the hardwood floors and the foundation of the house. It started to grow around the legs of the furniture that was located inside the home, and it even started swallowing up some of the possessions of this unfortunate couple. Walter Moore says the fungus ate his flip flops.
Fortunately, the Moore’s had homeowners insurance. They had purchased it from SafeCo quite some time before the fungus made its alarming appearance. A typical homeowners insurance policy will cover certain types of damage this is done to the home itself, the garage, the shed, and some of the land that it all sits on. The Moore’s weren’t certain if their homeowners insurance would cover damages due to this pervasive wood eating fungus, so they specifically asked about it.
SafeCo told this couple that yes, their homeowners insurance did cover the cost of repairing the damages that the fungus caused to their home. The Moore’s actually got that statement in writing. Therefore, they started having the repairs made.
This required workers to wear haz-mat suits, in order to keep the spores of this fungus from spreading even further (or to the homes of their neighbors). Cleanup was a massive undertaking, and resulted in tearing the house down completely. It also was expensive. The total clean up efforts cost $350,000.
This is when SafeCo changed its mind. The insurance company claimed that one of their own adjusters had misunderstood a clause in the contract regarding additional coverage. As a result, SafeCo decided it would cover only $10,000 of the cost of the damage that the fungus did to the home. The Moore’s are suing SafeCo for fraud at this time. Unfortunately, the couple cannot afford to move.
It is worth noting that this is not the first situation where SafeCo failed to meet the needs of the customers whom it sold homeowners insurance to. A woman in Connecticut had a situation where thieves stole all of the copper pipes from her home, leaving the house without functional plumbing.
She filed a claim to her homeowners insurance. SafeCo chose to drag its feet about taking care of this claim for months. I’ve no idea if that ever got resolved in a way that would benefit the customer, or if SafeCo is still refusing to cover what it should be covering.
Image by little blue hen on Flickr