It’s a common story: a burst pipe, a flooded basement, toxic mold, and an insurance company that refuses to honor its coverage. Carl and Mary Becker have been fighting the mold growing in their Michigan home for almost three years, but their fight against AutoOwners of Lansing has just begun.

The Beckers were away on vacation when two pipes burst and flooded their basement for days. After a plumber fixed the leak, they moved back into their house thinking the worst was over. The plumber, hired by their insurance provider, left without warning the Beckers that the flooded basement would leave mold, multiplying by the millions until the house became poisonous.

This information was never relayed to the Beckers. But almost immediately, Mary Becker started experiencing sinus infections, bronchitis, dizzy spells, and fatigue. When toxic mold was found in the home, she was diagnosed with toxic poison disorder.

When the Beckers complained to their insurance company, AutoOwners initially agreed to repair the home while they took up temporary residence. But later, probably when costs seemed too expensive, AutoOwners had a change of heart and decided that their policy did not cover mold.

What makes this case so interesting is that the insurance company made the problem worse than they would have if they had done nothing at all. “Four or five thousand would have fixed the problem” says Carl Becker. But because the insurance company started, then halted repairs, it caused the mold spores to spread throughout the house. Now the cleanup and repair estimate exceeds $500,000.

The moment the Beckers filed a lawsuit against their insurance company for fraud, misrepresentation, and the $500,000 in repairs, AutoOwners stopped paying for their temporary home while their actual home remains uninhabitable. Meanwhile, Mary Becker suffers from toxic mold poisoning where the mold has made a home for itself inside her body. This condition will likely affect the rest of her life.

The fact that Carl Becker is a civil action attorney means he is taking on the fight most people are unable to against AutoOwners. Lawsuits like these usually take years, and insurance companies count on that. Insurance companies are corporate entities that can afford to wait, but plaintiffs have to find the patience to put their lives on hold in order to seek justice. Carl Becker adds, “The only problem that the insurance company has is that my wife and I are fighters.”

The Beckers have also started an ipetition asking the Michigan State Legislature to pass a law enforcing clearer language and standards on homeowners coverage regarding mold.