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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

Home Insurance and Mold Coverage

mold on wall

Did you know that most home insurance companies don't cover damage from mold? It's up to homeowners to take care of their property and prevent mold, dry rot, and rust by doing regular maintenance. But if mold is caused by something that is covered by your insurance, you might get some help with the costs. Some insurance companies even let you buy extra coverage just for mold cleanup.

Does home insurance cover mold?

So, you might be wondering if your home insurance will help you out if you find mold in your house. Well, most of the time, regular home insurance won't cover mold damage. It all depends on what kind of policy you have. Some policies will list out specific things they cover, while others will list out what they don't cover. The usual stuff like fire, theft, and falling objects are usually covered, but water damage and mold are a bit more complicated.

If you're thinking about whether insurance will pay for getting rid of mold, you'll need to check your policy. The details about water and mold coverage are usually in the sections about what's not covered and the conditions of your policy. If you decided to get extra coverage for mold, the specifics will be in a separate section of your policy.

Mold caused by covered perils

Home insurance might cover mold damage if it's caused by a covered peril. For example, if a tree branch breaks a window during a rainstorm and water seeps into your home, leading to mold growth, your policy could help pay for the damage. Even if you can't see the mold right away, it can take up to 18 days to become visible. So, if a burst pipe or storm causes water damage that results in mold, your homeowners insurance may cover the cost of removing the mold as part of the restoration process. Just keep in mind that any coverage would depend on your deductible and any limits set by your insurer.

Mold caused by flooding

Flooding is a common cause of mold damage because it can take a while for mitigation efforts to start after a flood. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mold can start growing within 24-48 hours after flood damage. Unfortunately, standard homeowners policies don't usually cover flood damage, including mold. But you can get flood insurance through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program, although mold is typically not covered under these policies.

Mold caused by sewer backup

If water damage from a sewer backup leads to mold growth in your home, it's important to know that this is not typically covered by a standard homeowners policy. However, many insurers offer an optional sewer backup endorsement, also known as water backup and sump pump overflow coverage. If you have this add-on, your policy may help cover the cost of removing mold resulting from the sewer backup. But in general, mold caused by a sewer backup is not covered, so you may need to look into a separate mold rider or policy for protection.

Mold caused by construction or repair

Insurance usually won't provide coverage if the mold was caused by shoddy construction, repairs, or poor building materials. If the repair was for a covered claim, there might be coverage since mold can take some time to show up. But let's say you find mold on the wall in the new addition you just built onto your house. Your insurance won't cover it in this case because the main cause isn't a covered peril. Instead, you'll have to go after the contractor or company that did the construction work for restitution.

Mold caused by negligence

Home insurance companies usually say no to claims when they find out negligence is to blame for the damage. Negligence and wear and tear are not covered by home policies. So, if you accidentally leave a window open during a heavy rainstorm, causing water to seep in and mold to grow on your carpet, insurance won't help you out. You'll have to pay for the repairs yourself.

Why Mold Coverage Isn't Included in Standard Home Insurance Policies

About 20 years ago, the insurance industry made changes to how mold is covered in home insurance policies. This was in response to a rise in mold-related claims. In the late 1990s, health reports started to come out, warning people about the health risks of having mold in their homes. This led to what was called 'The Mold Scare.' Back then, the language in insurance policies about mold coverage was unclear. And since getting rid of mold can be really expensive, insurance companies were struggling to handle all the costly claims.

Around 2002, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) stepped in to help. They created a set of rules that insurance companies across the U.S. could use to make it clearer what is and isn't covered when it comes to mold. This also gave insurers a way to offer extra coverage to policyholders who wanted it.

How is mold covered?

When it comes to mold claims in insurance policies, there are two main types: first-party and third-party. First-party claims cover the costs of mold remediation and repairs to your home, including the dwelling, personal property, and additional living expenses. On the other hand, third-party claims deal with liability associated with mold, such as medical expenses for someone who gets sick due to mold exposure in your home.

Insurance companies have different ways of handling mold coverage, so it's important to carefully review your policy documents and work with your agent to choose the right level of coverage. For example, Chubb, a company that specializes in high-end homes, includes $10,000 for mold remediation in their standard policy, with the option to purchase additional coverage. They also allow policyholders to use their existing liability limit for mold-related claims. Allstate, on the other hand, offers limited mold coverage, up to $5,000.

Some insurance providers offer separate limits for first- and third-party claims. For instance, they may provide $2,500 for remediation and $5,000 for liability. Common options for increased coverage limits include $25,000 and $50,000 for first-party claims, and up to $100,000 for third-party liability coverage.

How to Deal with Mold Insurance Claims

If you find mold in your home, you can file a mold claim just like you would file a regular homeowners insurance claim. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to increase your chances of a successful claim. The key is to take steps to prevent mold from forming in the first place.

Prevention Steps

When you experience a water leak or any kind of water damage, it's important to act quickly to clean and dry the affected area. Most home insurance policies cover reasonable repairs up to a certain limit. You can use this coverage to move your belongings to a safe place, remove water, and prevent mold growth. Consider renting equipment like a wet/dry vac and portable heater to help with the cleanup. By taking these precautions, the claims adjuster will see that you've been responsible in minimizing the damage.

Before Filing a Claim:

  1. Turn off the water if there's a leak.

  2. Cover any damaged areas to prevent further water damage.

  3. Take photos of all the damage, both close-ups and wide shots.

  4. Dry the affected areas thoroughly and quickly.

  5. Get rid of soaked items like carpet, furniture, and insulation.

  6. Open doors and windows, and use fans to help with drying.

  7. Clean the affected areas with detergent to prevent bacteria growth.

  8. Contact your insurance agent to start the claim process.

  9. Keep all receipts for repairs to get reimbursed by the adjuster.

Dealing with Mold

Mold can start growing within 24-48 hours and become visible within 18-21 days, even if you've done everything to prevent it. This is especially true in humid climates. If mold appears after you've already cleaned up the water damage, contact your claims adjuster. As long as your policy covers mold claims and you've documented the process, your insurer should cover the cost of mold remediation up to the policy limit.

How To Prevent Mold In Your Home

Mold can create major health problems in addition to being a nuisance in the home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with allergies, immune-suppressive conditions, and respiratory illnesses are most vulnerable to mold-related health hazards.

Mold is a common problem, but with appropriate management, you can keep it under control. Mold can easily be detected by smelling its musty odor or feeling a sticky material when you touch surfaces. Dry mold can develop in linens and pillows and build around dressers, bookcases, and HVAC vents. To prevent mold, adopt these lifestyle and maintenance tips:

Prevention Tips

  • Dry up spills right away.

  • Check pipes and appliance hoses for leaks regularly.

  • Clean non-porous surfaces, like bathroom tile, with bleach.

  • Use a hydrogen peroxide and water mixture to clean porous surfaces, like wood.

  • Install exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms.

  • Keep humidity levels between 30% and 60% in your home.

  • Use paint with mold inhibitors on walls and ceilings.

  • Get rid of carpets in damp areas, like bathrooms and basements.

  • Don't let water sit in house plant reservoirs.

  • Check your roof and attic for leaks and fix them right away.

  • Clean out gutters to prevent water buildup.

  • Seal windows and doors to keep moisture out.

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