Indoor Air Quality Could Jeopardize Insurance

Building owners and managers must make\r\nproviding good indoor air quality (IAQ) a priority and do it right or risk being uninsurable.

Building owners and managers must make providing good indoor air quality (IAQ) a priority and do it right or risk being uninsurable. That warning was issued by insurance industry leaders who participated in Chelsea Group''s annual look at the future of indoor air quality.

"This admonition also has relevance for developers of single-family homes, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in mold claims in Texas. The insurance industry is responding by limiting or refusing altogether to write new property insurance in the state," said George Benda, chairman and

CEO of the Chelsea Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in indoor air quality.

As the insurance industry learns how good IAQ and construction practices can reduce the risk of claim payouts and litigation, policy coverage and rate options will be developed that will motivate the use of those practices and make ignoring those practices very expensive, he said.

Chelsea Group principal Fred Bartl says that in addition to issues surrounding "toxic" mold, actual and feared bioterrorism also will be a major factor in reshaping the IAQ market. A sense of urgency has developed to move from the research and product development phase to commercialized solutions, Bartl said.

"The industry leaders we spoke with agreed that there is no lack of opportunity, with a residential and commercial market that has the potential to grow to four or five times its current size," Bartl said.

Even before media coverage of "toxic" mold cases, and the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Chelsea Group''s market research found that more than 95 percent of those surveyed think that the quality of the air in both the home and workplace is somewhat or very important. This interest will spawn a new generation of technologies, integrated with existing IAQ management approaches and driven by end-users expectations to know how good and safe the air is, he said.

This year''s participants included Dan Lavoie, who is senior vice president and environmental group leader of the New York Risk Management Casualty Department at Marsh, Inc.; Tim Kensok, manager of New Ventures for Honeywell''s IAQ business; Sherry Liikala, director of marketing and an executive officer of MesoSystems Technology, a biosensor technology company; Robert Poole, principal of Lend Lease Real Estate Investments Risk Management Group and Engineering; Robert Baker, chairman and CEO of BBJ Environmental Solutions Inc., a company that produces and markets cleaning formulations for treating HVAC equipment; and Mike Belloli, vice president, Commercial Sales and Marketing for Lennox Industries, a leading manufacturer and distributor of heating and air conditioning products.

by Sandy Smith (ssmith@penton.com)

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