Does Home Insurance Cover Mold?
Mold is a common problem that can cause very serious health problems. Also, some people are allergic to mold and only find out about the allergy after their home is already infested. High levels of indoor mold can cause asthma, bleeding lungs, difficulty breathing, cancer, central nervous system problems, recurring colds, chronic coughing, coughing up blood, sudden hair loss, headaches, hives, kidney failure, mental dysfunction, memory loss and more.
Mold is a toxic fungus that is costly to remove the longer it grows, and it is not easy to get rid of. It usually grows in damp conditions in homes and offices, often as a result of heavy water leaks, flooding, and high indoor humidity. The question most homeowners ask when they realize they have mold is “does home insurance cover mold?” The short answer is sometimes. Read on to get the details.
When Will Home Insurance Cover Mold?
Homeowners insurance is meant to cover expenses that are exceedingly costly to repair. It is not meant to cover losses that could have been prevented with proper maintenance by the owners of the home.
Also, homeowners insurance only covers specific perils that include fire, lightning, vandalism, theft, damage caused by vehicles, falling objects, the weight of ice, snow or sleet, frozen pipes, accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from plumbing, heating, air conditioners, sprinkler systems or household appliances. If you develop mold because of the aforementioned perils, you are covered. But it gets confusing.
For example, if you experience a leak in your attic, which reaches into the insulation and causes mold, you will be covered if the leak was caused by ice building up under your roof’s shingles. However, if your roof is very old and needed maintenance, which would’ve prevented the leak, you would not be covered. It’s a fine line you walk as a homeowner when trying to get a claim paid in this sort of situation. As you can see, what makes one situation different from the other is that in the first instance, the situation can best be described as a sudden accident, not the result of negligence.
Look at this scenario for another look: You have a problem with your dishwasher, which causes a leak. Mold begins to form before the damage is noticed. This situation could go two ways: if the dishwasher was relatively new and had a new hose that broke, it was an accident that couldn’t have been prevented in all likelihood, so you’d be covered. However, if it’s an old broken-down dishwasher or the hose was frayed and needed replacing before the accident, you will be left without any home insurance coverage in this situation.
Another example: A relatively new pipe bursts and your home is flooded. You find out about it hours later, after it’s saturated the drywall. Mold has already set in before you can prevent an infestation. Your homeowners insurance would cover this because there is nothing you could have done to prevent the pipes from bursting. If there was nothing indicating that there would be a flood, you’ll likely be compensated for all or at least part of your losses. If your pipes froze in winter, however, the insurer will say you should’ve taken steps to winterize your home.
Now, flooding caused by natural disasters is a tricky situation because floods are expressly excluded from homeowners insurance coverage. Flood insurance is a type of policy that is sold separately from home insurance. It’s often a very valuable coverage for homeowners to have and if you live in several flood-prone regions it may be required. Flood zones have types: high risk or special flood hazard areas (beachfront, coastal regions), moderate-risk areas and low-risk areas.
Flood insurance cost is low, usually about $700 a year, which comes out to be very little money each month consider the sort of devastation a flood can wreak. It may be more if you live in a high-risk flood zone. Even a moderate-risk zone may cost you more than the average.
Even when people do not live in a flood zone, there is the chance of experiencing a flood that won’t be covered by homeowners insurance. With extreme weather on the rise, experts tend to feel that everyone lives in a flood zone.
When Is Mold Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Mold often takes form in the shower. Not only is mold unsightly, but it can also make you sick. You need to have it removed, but it will not be a cost that is covered by homeowners insurance. In the eyes of the insurer, there was a way to prevent this type of mold and it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to create proper ventilation in the shower in the first place.
Did you know you can buy mold insurance? Yes, you can buy a separate endorsement for mold and add it to your homeowners insurance. Always check your existing policy to see exactly what is stated in your agreement about mold coverage. Some policies will explicitly tell you what portion of your losses the insurer will cover (it may include clean up, for instance, and that is all). Your policy will state a maximum limit, which can be anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000 for mold remediation, even more, if the mold infestation is extremely bad.
How Much Does it Cost to Remove Mold?
It’s important to fix leaks and clean up flooded areas as soon as possible, and it should be done by a professional. Mold grows quickly and even the humidity from a cleaned-up mess can be enough to set off a rapid infestation of mold.
Hire a mold inspector with CIH or CIEC credentials. If the area affected is 10 square feet or more and you’re not sure of the cause of the mold, a mold inspector will find out what the source of the mold is and will put you in touch with a mold remediation company that can do the work.
Until you know what caused the mold you can’t stop its growth and you won’t know if it’s covered by home insurance. However, the problem may be something you can take care of without hiring a mold remediation company. Every case is different, but you must make sure your mold inspector is a reliable professional, who will give you honest advice.
A mold inspector will charge anywhere between $200 and $700 a visit, which will take anywhere between 2 and 5 hours. They will also do air sampling if you ask. Not all mold problems require sampling. Whatever you do, don’t test with home kits sold online and in some stores. They simply do not work.
Whether you are covered by home insurance or not, you need to have water damaged materials removed from your home, preferably before mold begins to grow. In some cases, mold removal may simply mean washing o removing a carpet. Other times, it’s more severe and will require construction. The longer you allow building materials to stay moist or humid, the worse the situation will get.
Severe mold infestation will require that you move during cleanup. A typical mold remediation cost varies anywhere between $500 and $30,000, depending on how much work needs to be done.
If you’re not happy with your home insurance policy or think you’re paying too much, you’re not alone. The great news is that you can shop multiple home insurance quotes for free by filling out a brief questionnaire with SmartFinancial. We’ll find you an agent who cares.
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