Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?
Homeowners insurance policies usually only cover mold if it results from an event covered in your policy, like a sudden burst pipe. However, not all mold claims are approved, like if the mold damage is determined to be caused by poor maintenance and neglect or if you let the water damage or excess humidity linger too long. Even when a mold claim is paid out, the cost of mold remediation may be more than your current homeowners insurance limits. The good news is that there are mold endorsements tailored to protect homeowners from a mold infestation. However, the best way to avoid having to file a mold claim is to prevent mold from infesting your home.
To help you navigate mold coverage, mold removal costs, mold claims and mold prevention, here are a few things you should know.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Removal?
Homeowners insurance policies vary in what they cover, but they all come with limitations. Your policy will only cover removal if the mold is a result of a covered peril.
For instance, mold can grow due to a variety of reasons, but a common factor in each of these scenarios is the presence of moisture. Water damage is one of the most common ways for mold to develop in a home. A standard policy will protect you when a sudden accident leads to water damage in your home, such as when a pipe bursts or an AC unit overflows.
When Won't Homeowners Cover for Mold?
Homeowners insurance will not cover you if the water damage was due to, say, a rusty pipe that burst or a 20 year old AC unit that seeped water.
Homeowners insurance never covers claims in full when the source of the problem is poor maintenance or neglect.
Homeowners insurance will not cover mold that resulted from a flood.
Examples of When Homeowners Insurance Covers Mold
There are a few situations when your homeowners policy can cover mold remediation. Here are some examples:
You experience a fire in a section of your home. Firefighters use water to put out the flames. However, the leftover moisture leads to mold.
Your water heater breaks down. Water leaks from where the heater ruptures, leading to a black mold infestation.
Something in your dishwasher malfunctions, and water floods your kitchen. You forget to dry along the base of your cabinets, resulting in mold.
How Much Will Insurance Cover for Mold?
Mold removal can cost thousands of dollars to remediate, and insurance companies want to reduce their financial liability. Generally, insurance policies provide between $1,000 and $10,000 limits for mold removal, depending on your limits. However, you can increase coverage by buying a mold endorsement. This add-on rider may be vital for homeowners who live in a state prone to mold due to humidity and moisture, like Florida.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Exclude Coverage for Mold?
Homeowners insurance is designed to help you in situations outside of your control. That's why it applies to things such as wildfire, tornados and lightning. But normal wear-and-tear or damage due to negligence don't fall under the protection of homeowners insurance. As a result, your homeowners insurance policy provider will likely deny coverage for any mold caused by your own actions (or lack of action).
Mold doesn't need much water to grow. Even a minor leak can lead to a significant spread of spores if left unfixed. You can try to notify your insurer through a claim about the leak itself and the resulting damage. But if you wait to do so after what your insurer determines is too long, then your insurer may feel you did not act quickly enough. Because of the delay in reporting, they may deny you mold coverage.
Also, it's important to note that insurers don't cover mold damage caused by regional flooding. You need to purchase an additional flood insurance policy to have protection for mold caused by a flood.
Examples of When Mold is Not Covered
There are a few situations where your homeowners insurance policy will not cover mold damage. Here are some examples:
You live in a state with a humid climate for at least part of the year. However, you don't use a dehumidifier in your basement, allowing mold to grow.
Your home is near a coastline. A storm causes the coast to flood, which also hits your home. Mold grows as a result of this event.
The pipe under your kitchen sink has been leaking for years. Thus, mold grew in your kitchen cabinetry.
Finding Mold Coverage
Your first option is to find a policy that includes mold remediation. Some homeowners insurance companies offer policies that automatically include this coverage.
Your second option is to buy a mold-damage endorsement. However, you may need to search for a provider that offers it. Mold damage insurance and riders may not be available in your state or through your current insurer.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Rid of Mold in Your Home?
Unfortunately, mold isn't just a danger to you and your family's health, as described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It can also take a bite out of your wallet to fix due to the difficulty of removal.
According to HomeAdvisor, an online resource for matching homeowners and contractors, the average cost for mold removal is $2,221. Fixing a small mold problem on your own can cost as little as $10 to $50. On the other hand, a severe presence of mold can cost homeowners upwards of $6,000 to fix.
Several factors will impact the overall cost for removal, including the level of growth, corrosion and type of mold. For instance, if the mold damaged a fixture or part of the home's structure, you will have to pay to replace those items. Or, if the mold affects your health, then you face potential medical bills. So, it's possible for costs to stack up when mold enters your home.
How To File a Mold Claim
Filing a Claim When You Don't See Mold
You should keep a detailed record of visibly damaged areas as well as the surrounding area. This will help support your claim and potentially help you find early mold growth.
For example, a pipe bursts in your home, leading to water damage. You file for the burst pipe, but your homeowners insurance company sends a mold remediation team along with other experts. That way, you can ensure your home dries properly, preventing mold at the outset.
This would be ideal for any homeowner. Your insurer addresses the damage from the event and prevents any further issues. As a result, you don't have to pay a deductible for two separate claims.
Filing a Claim When You See Signs of Mold
Things may become a little complicated if you do find mold. When there is mold, you have to prove the mold developed due to the covered event, not out of negligence. Try to follow these steps in this scenario to file a mold damage claim:
Contact your home insurance agent immediately. They will send a professional adjuster to assess the mold damage, the cost to repair or replace and whether everything falls under your covered claim.
Open windows and start running a dehumidifier. If you don't have that, you can also run fans. This will help dry the room and stop mold growth in its tracks.
Leave everything untouched. You shouldn't attempt to remove anything damaged or try cleaning the mold. The adjuster needs to see the scene first.
Take photos of all the affected areas. See if you have any pictures of the room before the event occurred, too. That way, your insurer can review the difference.
Read over your policy again and talk to your insurance agent. Ask them about mold coverage in your policy.
What To Do If Your Mold Claim Is Denied?
Your home insurance company may deny your mold claim. However, this usually occurs when you are at fault for the mold growth. Or if the event that caused the mold does not fall within your policy's coverage.
Other steps to take if your claim is denied:
Talk to the Claims Manager.
Contact Your State's Department of Insurance.
Consult an Attorney.
How Can You Prevent Mold Growth?
The best method to deal with mold is to stop it from growing in the first place. Every homeowner should take preventative measures. However, those living in mold-prone states may need to be extra careful. You can use the following tips to stop the spread:
Regularly clean your home, paying careful attention to areas prime for growth.
Use bleach in your bathroom frequently.
Monitor areas susceptible to mold, including your bathroom, crawl space
Install exhaust fans in damp-prone areas.
Keep humidity between 30% to 60% in your home.
Watch for water accumulation near showers, sinks, under house plants, etc.
Don't install carpets in areas that may become damp, such as a bathroom or kitchen.
Regularly clean up roof gutters.
Tech-savvy homeowners can try out smart devices that monitor the home's condition, like temperature and humidity.
How Do You Know Whether There's Mold in Your Home?
It's not rare for mold to sneak in. Cutting down an infestation in its tracks will help you cut removal and repair costs. Also, it'll keep you and your family healthy and safe.
You can usually rely on your senses to tell you when you have a mold problem. For instance, mold typically has a unique, musty smell. People generally describe it as earthy, similar to rotting wood or wet socks. The location or conditions that create the smell may also hint the area of the mold. For instance, if you smell it when you turn on your heating or air conditioning, you may have mold in your HVAC system. Or, if you can smell it but not see it, it may be behind a wall or appliance.
Mold tends to grow in crevices or dark places. So, it may be hard to find by sight. But if you see something that might resemble mold, consider the conditions. Is it a humid or damp location? Does it rarely get sunlight? Is the ventilation poor? Do you have a leak? If you answer yes to these questions, it might be mold.
Mold may find you before you find it. One of the strongest indicators of mold is whether you and your family experience symptoms of mold exposure. That can include symptoms like:
You can tell if mold causes these symptoms based on when the symptoms worsen. They'll worse the longer you spend in the house.
Mold Coverage and Homeowners Insurance
Mold is usually covered under a home insurance policy if it results from an insurance-covered event. However, mold claims sometimes exceed the limits of a standard home insurance policy or are denied. To ensure you have mold coverage, check your insurance policy. If you need to increase coverage limits or a rider, consider buying a new policy at a lower rate than you're probably paying now.
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