Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?
Mold is unsanitary, unsightly and quite a pain to get rid of. With proper home care, hopefully you’ll rarely have to deal with mold at all. But sometimes, the unthinkable occurs and mold can sprout in places like your bathroom or basement through no fault of your own. And if that happens, you’ll probably wonder how much of the removal you’re on the hook for.
Your homeowners insurance policy will cover mold on a case-by-case basis, meaning not every situation will be covered. Mold coverage is one of the more complex categories of your homeowners insurance policy, for several reasons. Not only is mold difficult to remove, but the root cause of mold is hard to track down (which you need to know when filing a claim).
So what do you do when you find mold, and how do you know if your homeowners insurance policy covers mold damage? Below, our experts answer all your questions and offer their advice for tackling this pesky growth once it shows up in your home or condo, as well as how to keep it from returning.
- Your homeowners insurance policy will cover mold on a case-by-case basis, meaning not every instance of mold will be covered.
- Mold damage must be “sudden and accidental” to be covered.
- Any mold caused by an unnamed peril or homeowner neglect will not be covered.
What does mold cause that’s covered by home insurance?
Before signing (or renewing) your home insurance policy, it’s best to do your research on the types of mold growth covered by your insurer. This way, you’ll know what to expect when the time does come to file a claim and pay your deductible for mold damage in your home.
What mold coverage your home insurance policy includes is mostly dependent on your covered perils. While every policy is different, you’ll most likely be covered from the following things that could cause mold:
- Appliance or equipment malfunction
- Falling objects
- Frozen, damaged, leaking or burst pipes
- Mold buildup from putting out a fire
- Water and steam overflow or discharge within a:
- Plumbing system
- Heating and air conditioning unit
- Automatic fire protection sprinkler system
- Household appliance
- Weight of snow, ice and sleet
The above is by no means an exhaustive or guaranteed list, so you should make sure to read your policy carefully to determine what perils you’re protected from. Once you have that list, you can better understand when you’ll be able to file mold claims.
Another issue worth noting for mold coverage is that most insurers require that damage be from a “sudden and accidental” issue. Basically, this means that the issue that causes the mold needs to happen suddenly and without fault for it to be covered. Mold caused by neglect or homeowner negligence falls into the uncovered category.
What does mold cause that isn’t covered by home insurance?
While you may think your home insurance policy will protect you from everything, unfortunately that’s not always true. Mold caused by perils not covered in your dwelling/personal property policy will not be covered.
So let’s say you decided not to purchase a separate flood insurance policy, and then your home is flooded from a rainstorm or other natural disaster. The resulting mold that grows from that flood damage wouldn’t be covered. If you want to be covered in instances such as this, it’s recommended that you buy flood or hurricane insurance, or at least add a mold endorsement to your policy.
Insurers also don’t cover any mold growth that comes from damage that occurred before the policy began, or before you purchased your home. So make sure to conduct a thorough inspection of your new home before buying (or before switching policies). Finally, homeowner negligence is another excluded coverage when it comes to mold. If you noticed a leak but took a while to fix it, or simply didn’t notice it at all, the resulting mold that developed would be on you to fix.
How much does it cost to get rid of mold in your home?
Mold is a costly and dangerous issue, both because of the difficulty to remove as well as the health hazards it poses to your home’s structure and your families health. While overall costs are dependent on the size of the mold growth as well as the type of mold, you can expect to pay an average of $2,222 for mold remediation.
According to the CDC, mold can not only cause an allergic reaction, but it can also exacerbate asthma or other breathing difficulties. It can also cause rashes. Long-term exposure to any type of mold can lead to cancers and other chronic conditions such as heart disorders, lung scarring and liver disease. And while all mold poses some amount of danger to your family’s health, some types are more dangerous than others.
Mold removal costs an average of $2,222, depending on the type of mold and the size of the growth (Source: HomeAdvisor). However, pulling up and replacing structural elements like walls, showers and tile damaged by mold can greatly increase your overall cost.
The most common types of mold you’ll find in your home are aspergillus, cladosporium and black mold. Though black mold is known to be the most dangerous, all types are harmful to humans (and pets) and should be removed immediately. Because there are so many different types of mold, growth can appear on a variety of surfaces and grow in various climates, so it’s important to check your home thoroughly and regularly for any signs of growth.
How do I make an insurance claim for mold?
If mold does appear inside your home, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurer. While standard homeowners insurance policies cover some mold growth, not all types are covered. So in order to get your claim approved, you’ll need to take plenty of pictures of the damage and what caused it to show to your insurance company. You may even want a professional to view the damage to determine its official cause.
Once you’ve fully documented the damage and submitted your claim (and your insurance company tells you it's safe to clean up), do your best to prevent it from spreading. Your insurance company will likely only cover the initial damage, meaning you’ll be responsible for any additional damage that happens after such as spreading mold or rot. Remove any remaining standing water, dry out the area (opening windows, bringing in fans and installing dehumidifiers are all great ways to accomplish this) and clean it regularly to prevent any more growth until the area can be cleaned professionally.
What if my claim is denied?
The most likely reasons mold claims are denied are because they are caused by an uncovered peril, or are found to be caused by owner negligence. If you have direct proof of the cause, it’s best to submit that information when filing your initial claim — this will help prevent any miscommunication or misunderstanding.
How to protect your home from mold growth
Protecting your home from mold growth is relatively simple, and so important for your home’s long-term health. Mold tends to grow in humid and warm environments, so there are easy steps you can take to keep it from growing in likely areas such as HVAC closets, bathrooms and gutters.
- Install dehumidifiers in the bathrooms and basement
- Commit to regular home maintenance and cleaning
- Areas especially susceptible to mold growth should be monitored regularly
- Install smart devices to help keep an eye on your home’s condition
- Devices like temperature, humidity and water leak sensors can take the guesswork out of home maintenance by immediately alerting you to any issues
As frustrating as it can be, mold growth isn’t a death sentence for your home. And with proper preventative care, you can decrease the chance of mold spreading again throughout your home. If you're looking for an insurer that’ll walk you through the claim process, speak to a member of our team about your home insurance options.