What To Do When You Need To File a Marijuana Insurance Claim
Dealing with a marijuana insurance claim can be a worst nightmare for landlords. How does this happen? You rent one of your home properties only to find out the person occupying it was using the home to grow marijuana. The cost of damage is enormous, with prices exceeding thousands of dollars.
With the increasing legalization of marijuana in certain states, this issue is becoming more common, where tenants are growing hundreds of plants, sometimes upwards of 700, in your home. If you are a landlord or homeowner of any rental property, you are a potential victim of this vandalization.
To make matters worse, did you know that you are required by law to report this damage going forward? This is one of many reasons why dealing with a marijuana insurance claim is the ultimate headache. With limited information online, it’s incredibly difficult to know what the proper steps are in resolving the issue and making sure your insurance company will fulfill your claim and pay for the damages.
A public adjuster can help you navigate the process of what to do when marijuana is grown illegally in your rental property and make sure to get your claims filled.
Extensive Damage, Extensive Costs
Rental properties are an appealing target for tenants to grow marijuana because it’s less expensive than using a commercial building. It’s also easier for them to go under the radar with their illegal grow operation and sell outside of California.
Nothing is left unharmed on your property, with the destruction extending beyond what the eye can see. Because marijuana plants require high levels of light and water and are meant to be grown outside, all of these elements lead to major issues. Some examples of damage and vandalism include:
- Growers rewire homes in order to get the maximum amount of light to the plants, placing holes in the walls and ceilings.
- Equipment is stapled to the floorboards and carpet.
- Water seeps through the walls and floorboards, creating mold in hidden surfaces.
- Window frames are broken, ceiling fans are destroyed, window blinds are damaged from intense heat and items being placed over windows to keep everything dark.
- Large amounts of soil filled with fertilizers and chemicals are left covering the floor and carpet.
- Cabinets (including the tracks) are vandalized.
- Insulation and air filters are filled with toxic chemicals.
- Plumbing systems have hazardous chemicals and fertilizers poured into them.
- Foul odors fill every room and affect every surface.
Unfortunately, these are only some of the potential issues that can come up when your property is turned into a marijuana grow house. Sometimes, growers try to go one step further by covering up their destruction, resulting in even more severe repair issues to your property.
Giving You Confidence:
Steps To Getting Your Property Repaired
A public adjuster’s priority is to uphold the insurance company’s obligation to make proper payments for the destruction caused to your rental property.
To do that, there are a few steps a public adjuster has to take in order to get the home inspected and assessed for overall damage, including any recommendations for repair. These recommendations range from identifying which items need to be replaced or cleaned and deodorized, to more technical recommendations such as inspecting air filter and air ducts, looking from the attic down (a thorough top to bottom approach).
When your property is vandalized by a marijuana grow operation, we bring in independent, reputable, experienced contractors to get your home back to normal. This includes:
Lead and Asbestos Testing
The first step is to test the property for lead and asbestos. Any home that tests positive for lead and asbestos must be treated under Procedure 5 in accordance with E.P.A. guidelines. This means only a licensed abatement company can handle the affected materials, removing them from the home and getting clearance testing before the mitigation can begin.
THC Hygienist Testing
A THC Hygienist will test the amount of contamination inside the home and provide a detailed outline of the required scope of work for the mitigation. This serves as a guide for the next steps to repairing your property.
Think of this step as the heavy-lifting with restoring your property. Based on the inspection report from the THC Hygienist, your public adjuster will bring in an independent THC mitigation company to restore your home to its condition before it was used as a marijuana grow house.
It’s a pack-in, pack-out approach. They remove any materials from your home that cannot be repaired, recover any salvageable materials, grind materials and decontaminate, deodorize the home, and restore the property back to where you need it to be. After the mitigation is complete, clearance testing by a third party is needed. Once that is cleared, the reconstruction can begin.
Water Damage and Mold Remediation
When your rental property is used to grow marijuana, it’s almost guaranteed large amounts of water were used in places it should not have been to keep the plants growing. And because mold specifically thrives in moisture, it’s important to detect and resolve any moisture issues or leaks quickly.
An independent restoration contractor will detect and remove the mold, and also locate any potential moisture and leaks, drying out excess moisture, removing traces of water damage quickly to prevent further damage to structural issues.
In the rare case where there is mold found but no water issues, an environmental contractor will take a mold sample. After the mold has been taken care of, the mitigation company can begin with grinding of structural materials and decontaminating the air.
Clearance Testing for Air Quality
After the mold is assessed and removed, the air quality in the home must be tested to ensure the air is a healthy grade. This is typically done by the same environmental company who conducts the lead and asbestos testing.
Your public adjuster will send a third-party estimator to the site to provide an unbiased viewpoint on the damages. This serves as a checks and balances for settling your claim.
Fulfilling your Claim
After your home has been tested for harmful chemicals and air quality, damaged items have been removed and reconstruction work is underway, a public adjuster will speak with the insurance company to get your claim fulfilled. An official report of the recommendations, test results, and items needing to be replaced is submitted to your insurance company.
By following the above steps, a public adjuster ensures you can have confidence knowing the home is free of chemicals, clean and safe for future occupants and present the reports to the city for a seal of approval.
Big Mistakes To Avoid
When a rental property is harmed by marijuana growers, people tend to panic and immediately contact their insurance provider. Something many people forget is that insurance companies ultimately do not want to pay your claim. Because they will look for any reason not to pay, it is critical when first contacting them to have everything perfectly documented. This is just one of several mistakes you could make when your home is used as a grow house that can be detrimental to your case. Specific mistakes you want to avoid include:
Never contact the insurance company first
Why? Because claims can stay on your records for up to three years. This includes a marijuana insurance claim. Even if that claim wasn’t covered under your policy, even if you didn’t need to contact them. No matter the issue, anytime you report a claim under your insurance company, that report will follow you.
Making a public adjuster the first person you call means the appropriate steps will be taken (as mentioned above), putting together a detailed report and covering all the bases, so that no loopholes are found by your insurance company.
Marijuana grown in your garage is not the same as your home.
If marijuana plants were grown in the garage, the process for reporting the damage is different. It is best to speak with a public adjuster about the most appropriate steps in reporting this to your insurance company.
How Excel Adjusters Gets Your Damages Covered
We have a reputable relationship with insurance companies as a result of more than 20 years of working as a public adjuster in Orange County, San Francisco, Irvine, and San Diego. Serving as your representative, our goal is to ensure you get the full amount of reimbursement as soon as possible under your policy.
We work with independent, experienced third-parties for all steps of the testing, mitigation and remediation work to avoid any conflicts of interest. For THC Mitigation and Water and Mold Remediation, we work with Restoration Unlimited, a trusted, independent contractor.
Trying to fulfill your marijuana insurance claim alone is complex. Let us help you navigate your insurance company, so that you can repair the damages done to your property and move on with business. At Excel Adjusters, we work for you.