When Does Home Insurance Cover Mold?

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Homeowners insurance policies often have vague wording regarding mold. So it can be difficult to determine if any mold damage is covered.

Policies typically exclude coverage for mold damage, except when the mold stems from a covered claim, like if your roof is damaged in a storm.

When does homeowners insurance cover mold removal?

Mold removal is only covered when the source of the mold is covered in your homeowners insurance policy, such as water damage. Standard policies protect you from water damage caused by sudden and accidental incidents, such as a burst pipe or overflow from a malfunctioning AC unit.

If the resulting moisture from such an issue causes mold to develop, you could file a claim under your water damage coverage for mold removal and to repair permanently damaged property.

Examples of when mold is covered by home insurance

  • Your water heater ruptures, releasing water that causes black mold to grow on the surrounding walls.
  • You experience a home fire, and mold develops after firefighters use water to extinguish the flames.
  • Your dishwasher malfunctions and floods your kitchen, resulting in mold along the base of your cabinetry.

How much will insurance cover for mold?

Mold remediation can cost $15,000 to $30,000 for an entire house, so insurance companies take several measures to reduce their risk. One of them is cutting how much they'll pay for mold damage, even if it is caused by a covered peril. Typically, insurance policies have a maximum limit of $1,000 to $10,000. If you want to buy more mold coverage, you can usually add it as a rider. However, if you live in a mold-prone state, such as Florida, it can be expensive.

When does homeowners insurance exclude coverage for mold?

Mold caused by your own neglect and lack of maintenance will likely be denied by your home insurance company.

Over time, a minor leak could cause mold throughout the surrounding area. If you were to file a claim for the leak — and the resulting mold — weeks or even days after the leak became apparent, your insurance provider would likely deny coverage, because you failed to act immediately.

Also, no mold damage resulting from a regional flood is covered, since flooding is excluded from your homeowner's insurance. But, if you purchased separate flood insurance, that coverage would extend to mold damage.

Examples of when mold isn't covered

  • Your bathtub has leaked for years, resulting in a mold infestation.
  • You live in a humid climate and failed to use a dehumidifier in your basement, and black mold grew as a result.
  • A storm caused flooding in your home, and mold growth followed.

How to file a claim when you have mold

In some cases, your mold claim will coincide with your claim for the incident. For example, if a pipe bursts and floods your house, your insurance company may send a mold remediation team to properly dry your home to prevent mold in the first place.

This is ideal, since it can minimize damage and prevent you from paying a deductible for two separate claims — one for repairing the damage from the burst pipe, the other for future mold removal.

In these situations, ask your insurance agent if mold remediation is totally covered by your claim. Also, keep meticulous records of all damaged areas and repairs to support potential future claims.

In other cases, you might discover mold some time after the water damage occurred. If that happens, you need to prove that the mold resulted from the covered peril and not a new leak or lack of maintenance. Follow these steps to file a claim under these circumstances:

  • Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. They'll need to send an adjuster to assess the total cost of the damage and whether it's related to a covered claim.
  • Open windows or run a dehumidifier or fan to dry out the room and prevent further mold growth. However, don't try to clean or remove anything. The adjuster needs to review all damaged property.
  • Photograph all damaged areas and property, and gather any relevant photos you have from the prior water damage to supplement your claim.
  • Review your policy or consult your agent to determine your policy's mold coverage limits.

As best as possible, try to prove that this mold is related to your initial water damage. That way, you won't get stuck paying two deductibles. However, it's in your insurance company's best interest to view the damage as a separate claim. So don't be surprised if you encounter some resistance when trying to reopen a former claim.

Consider switching your homeowners insurance company

Ask your company whether they provide mold coverage. Some insurance companies, like State Farm, have dropped coverage for mold altogether, even if it's from storm damage. However, there are still some large national insurance companies that provide coverage for mold.

For instance, Allstate provides mold coverage, but they impose a $5,000 coverage limit on claims. If mold is a big concern for you, consider switching companies to one that offers it. Not only will you obtain some coverage for mold, but you could also potentially lower your home insurance rates by switching.

How can you prevent mold growth?

The cheapest way to deal with mold is by preventing it in the first place. This is especially important for homeowners in mold-prone states, such as Florida and Louisiana. Regularly clean, ventilate and dehumidify areas prime for mold growth. Plus, do the following:

  • Keep the humidity in your home between 30% and 60% with air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers.
  • Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Don't install carpets in damp areas, such as the basement or bathrooms.
  • Don't allow water to accumulate under houseplants.
  • Bleach your bathrooms frequently.
  • Regularly clean out your gutters.
  • Periodically check crawl spaces, the laundry room and cabinetry beneath sinks for mold or dampness.
  • Inspect and replace hoses to appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators every five years.

Being mindful of this list could save you thousands of dollars down the line.

If your home floods, there are also several measures you can take to make sure mold doesn't grow before you can get a mold prevention team into the area.

  • Remove any standing water as soon as you've photographed the damage.
  • Move any rugs or affected furniture outside to dry.
  • Open windows and run a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the room.
  • Disinfect the area with bleach.

How do you know whether there's mold in your home?

Another key way to prevent mold growth is to identify it before it can spread. The larger the infestation, the more costly it will be to remediate. Mold can hide behind walls, under carpets and behind the fridge. Use your senses to detect mold in your home.

Smelling mold

Mold has a distinct musty scent. Some compare it to the smell of rotting leaves in late autumn. The smell will be strongest in rooms where the mold is growing. However, if the smell is most apparent when you turn on your AC or heat, then the mold is likely in that system.

If you smell mold but can't see it, it may be under carpet or an appliance or behind a wall, so you may need to call a mold inspection team to locate it.

Seeing mold

Mold is not always obvious and can often hide in plain sight. For example, mold can grow in the grout of your bathroom tiles without you even noticing. If you see or feel a velvety or furry texture, it's likely mold. If the pattern is uniform, it could be a mold colony.

To quickly determine if an area contains mold, ask yourself if it makes sense for mold to be growing there. If the area is often humid (a bathroom) or poorly ventilated and unlit (a basement), mold is likely to grow there.

Getting sick from mold

Another way to detect mold is to consider whether you or your family have been experiencing the physical symptoms of mold exposure. These can include the following:

  • Asthma
  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat

All of the above symptoms may be related to a multitude of illnesses, especially allergies and the common cold. You can distinguish between a common illness and mold exposure if you can determine whether the symptoms are worse on evenings and weekends, when you spend more time at home. Also, if others in your home display similar symptoms over time, you may have a mold problem.

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