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If mold destroys objects in your rental home, your renters insurance may cover you depending on the cause of the mold. Mold tends to be a gray area because of certain exceptions. In this article, we'll clear up any confusion and ambiguities surrounding renters insurance and mold damage.
When does renters insurance cover mold?
Renters insurance will cover mold damage to your personal property only if the mold was caused by a peril you are covered for. In most cases that would be standing water most likely caused by a leak or some sort of internal flood. Common causes of internal floods are pipe bursts, or an AC system suddenly leaking. If mold grew as a result of that water damage and then ruined something you owned, you should be able to use your renters policy to have the objects replaced.
Other perils you are covered for that may lead to mold are fires and wind. If a fire were to expose your belongings to rain, which as a result develops mold, you would again be covered for the remediation and replacement of your belongings. The same principle would apply to wind damage. Essentially if you can trace your mold growth to any of the following, you would be covered:
- Lightning or fire
- Hail or windstorm
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Riots or civil disturbances
- Smoke damage
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Falling objects
- Volcanic eruption
- Damage from the weight of snow, ice or sleet
- Water damage from plumbing, heating or air conditioning overflow
- Water heater cracking, tearing and burning
- Damage from electrical current
- Pipe freezing
Rather than wait for the mold to grow before filing a claim though, we recommend you call in a mold remediation team to prevent mold growth in the first place. Preventing mold from growing ultimately cheaper than combating a mature infestation. Nevertheless, your renters insurance company should reimburse you for charges associated with calling in the team and any work they do.
When doesn't renters insurance cover mold?
There are many listed exclusions that your insurance company will not compensate you for when it comes to mold damage. The one we caution most renters about is external floods: those from a storm surge, heavy rains or even overflowing sewage. If mold grows as a result of the first two, you need to have a separate flood insurance policy in order to get claim payouts for those belongings. If your sewer system overflows and results in mold, you're out of luck unless you purchased a separate endorsement that gives your belongings extra coverage for sewage backup.
Mold also won't be covered if it can be proven the cause was a result of your negligence. One example would be if there is an internal flood in your apartment and you used towels to dry the area. If you left those towels in the corner of your room for weeks on end, and mold grew, ruining all your other clothing, you would not be covered. Even though technically it was water damage that was the first cause, insurers view your failure to remove the towels as the ultimate cause.
When your landlord may be liable
Mold also affects things that are beyond the scope of renters insurance policies and are instead the responsibility of your landlord. Remember that renters insurance is only meant to cover your personal property and never any structure of the home. Mold caused by a leaky roof, pipe, wall or which pre-dated your move into the rental is the responsibility or the landlord to remediate.
It does get tricky, however, if mold caused by a landlord's neglect destroys or ruins your personal items since most leases will state the landlord is in no way responsible for damage to your personal property. If the mold is not attached to a water damage claim either, your renters insurance is not going to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings.
Your only recourse here may be to demand compensation from the landlord. If you choose to go down that route, we'd recommend getting sound legal advice to confirm you have a strong case against the landlord.
How much you are covered for mold claims
We've found that renters insurance companies are fairly strict when it comes to mold and may give you a limit as to how much you may redeem for mold-related costs even if you are technically covered. Typically it may not be greater than a couple thousand dollars. If you act early, however, that limit should be more than enough to deal with a small infestation.
Certain objects like electronics, instruments and jewelry are capped at a couple thousand dollars worth of coverage anyway. As we say above with getting an endorsement for sewage back up, you can get a similar endorsement for electronics, jewelry, musical instruments and other valuable objects to afford them more coverage.