CHICAGO, IL — Building owners and managers, and even homeowners, need to take notice. Good indoor air quality (IAQ) should be made a priority, and done right, or they risk being uninsurable. This was the warning issued by insurance industry leaders who participated in Chelsea Group’s annual look at the future of IAQ.

“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. The risk for developers is consumers may start refusing to buy their homes if they feel they will not be able to get property insurance because of poor construction practices, bad design, or substandard quality of building materials,” stated George Benda, chairman and ceo of the Chelsea Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in IAQ.

As the insurance industry learns more about 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 remarked.

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

“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, Chelsea Group’s market research found that more than 95% of those surveyed think that air quality in both the home and workplace is somewhat or very important. This interest is expected to create a new generation of technologies, integrated with existing IAQ management approaches and driven by end-user expectations to know how good and safe the air is.

Publication date: 02/11/2002