Does Home Insurance Cover Mold The Answer Is A Bit More Complicated Than You Might Think
Mold is very tricky. Sometimes you dont notice it at first. Sometimes it festers in corners or behind wallpaper. Sometimes it can even make you sick. But does home insurance cover mold? Rather, does it cover mold removal? Because when you find mold in your house, the very first thing you want to do is get rid of it. Your home is likely your largest investment, and severe mold damage can harm the resale value.
Water Damage Mold Cleanup Should You Use A Pro Or Diy
Mold cleanup is something that you need to take serious. Whether mold is a result of water damage, a sewer backup, or overland basement flooding, how you approach cleanup will depend on a number of factors.
The first thing you need to do if you find mold is determine the size of the issue. A small areas of mold can be cleaned up by you, however, a larger presence should be handed by a professional mold remediation company.
The US Environmental Protection Agency explains :
Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet , in most cases, you can handle the job yourself.
Other things to consider when determining whether or not to use a professional are :
- Where Is The Mold? : If its near a HVAC unit and could have gotten into the system, call a professional.
- What Is The Source Of The Mold? : If the mold is a result of sewer backup or potentially contaminated water, a professional is your best option.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Removal
Whether home insurance covers mold removal depends on the damage, policy and insurance company.
“Frequency of coverage is difficult to answer. Coverage will vary by carrier and individual policy. Most carriers that do offer mold coverage have limits that typically start around $2,500 to $5,000 and can go up from there it depends on the individual policy and what the customer is willing to pay for from a premium standpoint,” Ragsdale said.
One situation in which a home insurance company will cover the insurance claim is during winter. For instance, a home insurance company will likely cover water damage caused by an ice dam because it falls under the “covered peril and timing” part of your policy.
“If a leak occurs but goes unattended for an extended period of time and mold begins to grow, it may not be covered. However, if an ice dam forms in the winter, water leaks into the attic for a short period of time and mold begins to form before the damage becomes apparent, then it may be covered. Mold coverage is strictly determined by the investigating adjuster,” Ragsdale said.
Basically, homeowners insurance will protect you if there is damage to the actual home or its contents. There are exceptions, though.
Some issues usually not covered by home insurance and will likely prove unsuccessful as a mold claim include damage from a flood, sewer backup or water seeping from the ground.
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How To Avoid Having A Mold Damage Claim Denied
There are several things you can do to prevent mold and/or improve the odds of having your claim approved if you incur mold damage.
On the prevention side, you can:
- Install dehumidifiers in areas that are prone to dampness
- Regularly check plumbing pipes and fittings to look for leaks
- Adequately ventilate bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and other areas of your home where mold may have an opportunity to grow
- Keep gutters clean to prevent the formation of ice dams in winter, which can lead to leaks
- Regularly inspect your roofand around windows and doorsand caulk cracks that could allow water to leak in
- Properly insulate interior and exterior pipes in winter to avoid breakages or leaks
- Routinely check appliances and hot water heaters for signs of leaks
If you have to file a claim for mold damage:
- Properly document the damage with photos and/or video
- Provide up-to-date maintenance records if you have them
- Follow any and all instructions the insurance company gives you to process the claim
- Contract approved mold removal companies to clean up the damage
Call Your Insurance Company And Make A Mold Claim
Once you have your proof ready, next is to contact your insurance provider immediately and make a claim. While you are at it, take notes of the conversation. If you can, record it.
Provide detailed information about mold growth and damage. If by any chance, you have cleaned or removed or tampered with the mold or any damaged material, state such too. However, do not dispose of any materials before the insurance adjuster arrives.
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How To Determine If You Have Mold
If youve recently had a water damage issue, there is a very good chance you will have mold if you dont properly clean up water damage. Here are the ways you can identify the presence of mold in your home :
- Look : Look for visible signs in the common areas where mold grows.
- Smell : Use your nose. A damp or moldy smell is a common clue that mold is present.
- Condensation : You have a lot of condensation on glass or metal.
- Past Leaks : If youve had leaks and water damage in the past it could create a breeding ground for mold to grow.
What Do You Do If You Have Mold In Your House
If you discover mold in your home you need to take action before it spreads.
Step 1: Check your homeowners policy to learn if mold is covered
Step 2: If not, call a professional mold remediation company to remove the mold
Step 3: If you can’t afford a professional company, a home remedy may help. Before you begin, put a mask on to prevent breathing in mold spores, cover your clothes from head to toe, and wear gloves. One common home remedy includes baking soda and vinegar. Here’s how it works:
- Mix two parts baking soda with one part vinegar and one part water
- Mix it into a thick paste
- Spread onto the moldy surface and allow it to dry
- Scrub the area. Repeat the process until the mold disappears
A home remedy may work for a small area of mold, like in a shower stall, but bigger jobs will almost certainly require the help of a professional crew.
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Mold Exclusion In Insurance Policies
The late 1900s and 2000s saw an increase in insurance claims on mold damage among homeowners, especially those connected to water damage claims. This led to the exclusion of mold damage from insurance home insurance policies.
Most states in the USA allow homeowners with insurance to exclude mold from coverage except when the mold damage resulted from the problem covered by the policy. Many policies instead offer limited coverage.
Homeowners who do not have insurance coverage can buy insurance policy endorsements. This will allow the insurance company to include additional coverage to your standard home insurance policy. Some states insurers also offer mold insurer riders that homeowners can add to their policy to remove any form of mold coverage exclusion.
Mold endorsements usually cost more in risky homes like old buildings or homes located in humid areas or built with mold-prone materials.
Typically, a mold endorsement plan costs between $500 and $1500 annually.
How To File A Claim For Mold Damage
In many cases, homeowners insurance claims related to mold are part of a larger water damage claim. For example, maybe a pipe burst, flooded your basement, and months later you discover mold growth in your walls.
In the event you discover mold months after the initial incident, reach out to your insurance company to see if youâre still able to file a claim for the damage. Most insurers require you to report mold damage no later than six months from the date of the covered event that caused the mold.
Here are a few steps you should take to ensure that youâll get reimbursed for mold-related loss.
Contact your insurance company right away to report the water damage incident or mold growth
Document the damage with photos and videos
Ventilate the affected area as much as possible to prevent further mold growth
Closely follow your insurance companyâs instructions for filing a claim
Contact local mold removal companies to get cleanup and repair estimates
Provide insurance company with estimates and receive a payout
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How To Prevent Mold In Your Home
Mold is more than a household headache it can cause serious health problems, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with allergies, diseases that weaken the immune system and respiratory diseases face the highest mold-related health risks.
Its almost impossible to keep your home mold-free all the time, but with proper maintenance, you can prevent mold from getting out of hand. Often, you can smell the musty odor of mold before you see it or feel a slimy substance when you touch surfaces. Dry mold can grow in linens and pillows and form around dressers, shelves and heating and cooling vents. To prevent mold, regularly follow a few lifestyle and maintenance tips:
- Dry spills immediately
- Regularly check pipes and appliance hoses for leaks and replace hoses before they spring a leak if possible
- Clean surfaces like bathroom tile and ceramic floors with mold-killing products, like bleach
- Install exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms
- Maintain a humidity level of 30% to 60% inside your home
- Paint walls and ceilings with paint that contains mold inhibitors
- Remove carpets from damp areas, like bathrooms and basements
- Dont allow water to accumulate in water reservoirs of house plants
- Inspect your roof and attic for water seepage and promptly make repairs as necessary
- Clean debris from gutters to ensure proper water drainage
- Seal windows and doors to prevent seepage and keep out moisture
What Does Mold Do
Four of the most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria and Aspergillus. Cladosporium may cause ear or eye infection, and it can also affect those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions. Penicillium did, in fact, lead to the discovery of penicillin, and most strains are not very harmful to humans. Alternaria and Aspergillus can cause allergies and inflame skin and mucous membranes theyre also especially harmful for people who are immunocompromised.
No matter what mold you have, its likely bothersome to those with asthma and it might make you feel like you have a perpetual cold. There are of course other molds, like black mold, that can be much more harmful. So whenever you spot mold, take action quickly.
These are all occurrences that happen suddenly and generally could not be prevented. There is a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the incident and the damages it may have caused.
Mold doesnt act like this. No one is suddenly struck by mold even if its been growing in secret. Even if theres no way you could have known about it. Mold growth is gradual, so its usually challenging to prove what exactly the cause was, or when the trouble began.
There are, however, certain very specific circumstances under which mold might be covered.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage
Sometimes it covers some types of water damage, but not others.
When water damage is covered
Generally, if the cause of the water damage is sudden and accidental, its covered by homeowners insurance.
For example, if your dishwasher suddenly goes on the fritz, your pipes burst, or your washing machine supply hose breaks, youre covered.
Btw, homeowners policy will cover both the structure of your home and your personal belongings in your home if theyre damaged by water. But take note that the thing that causes the damage isnt covered.
What does that mean? Lets say your hot water tank bursts, and leaks all over your finished basement. Your household insurance would cover the replacement of your basement, but not the hot water tank.
When water damage isnt covered
Homeowners insurance doesnt cover water damage when it stems from:
- Maintenance issues
- Water backup from an outside sewage or drain
- Mold, rot, or corrosion
- A flood
If youd like flood insurance, you can go ahead and purchase a separate flood policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.
What If My Home Has Had Mold Problems Before
Insurance companies hate risk. In fact, the insurance industry is all about limiting risk.
Risky homes, such as old homes with old wiring and plumbing, and risky areas, such as high-crime neighborhoods or homes near woods that often catch fire, usually have more claims. Insurance companies dont like paying out many claims.
The same goes for a home with mold or ones with previous mold-related claims. Insurance companies view those homes as risky.
In that case, your insurance company will likely decline a mold endorsement or charge you a lot for that coverage.
That means it might be worth paying for the mold removal yourself.
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When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Removal
Mold removal is only covered when the source of the mold is a peril already covered in your homeowners insurance policy, such as water damage. Standard homeowners insurance policies protect you from water damage caused by sudden and accidental incidents, such as a burst pipe or an overflow resulting from a malfunctioning AC unit.
If the resulting moisture from such an issue causes mold to develop, you’d be able to file a claim for mold removal, as well as for the repair of any property permanently damaged by the mold, under your water damage coverage.
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 growing along the base of your cabinetry.
Does Homeowners Insurance In Florida Cover Mold
I just bought my first home in Florida, and Im curious about what all is covered under my Florida homeowners insurance. I live in a humid climate, and mold can sometimes go unnoticed while the problem grows. Does my Florida home insurance cover mold?
The answer is that mold will sometimes be covered under your Florida home insurance policy, but not always. Mold damage may be covered in certain circumstances, but your coverage entirely depends on the cause of the damage.
For example, if the mold were caused by water damage from a sudden or undetectable leak in an appliance youd likely have coverage.
But if mold grows under your roof shingles or in your attic because of a poorly maintained roof, or if you fail to run a dehumidifier in your Florida home and mold grows as a result, homeowners insurance will not help you pay for repairs.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Damage
Dealing with mold can be quite a headache for any homeowner. The damage it can cause can be quite extensive and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. Not to mention, it can be extremely detrimental to you or your familys health.
In fact, theres several types of mold and some are more dangerous than others. Mold can grow more rapidly in your home due to warmer climates or water damage. Ultimately, the best way to avoid this stressful situation is to regularly clean your home and monitor it for any water damage. However, we cant always prevent disasters from striking.
In this article we will discuss whether or not mold is covered under your homeowners insurance policy.
Does Renters Insurance Cover Mold
Typically, renters insurance does not cover mold. For any company that does provide such coverage, it again depends on whether the mold was caused by an event covered by your renter’s policy or if it is due to negligence. So if the roof of your rental home is weighed down by ice, and water begins to seep in as the ice melts, any resulting mold may be covered.
However, if the kitchen sink has been leaking for weeks and you did nothing to keep the area below the sink dry, it is unlikely growing mold would be covered by your policy for two reasons: The mold was not due to a covered peril and you could have mitigated the problem.
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Will Rates Increase After A Mold Damage Claim
Its likely premiums will increase after filing a claim. Having a claim on record means youre likely to file another one, making you riskier in the eyes of the insurance provider.
If you have a loss-free credit on your homeowner policy, you would see your rates increase after a mold claim since you would now lose this discount, Hickey noted. Premium increases could also result from the total number of claims filed in the past. For example, multiple homeowner claims within a short period may result in a greater increase.
If your mold problem costs less to fix than your deductible is high, you may want to consider paying for the cost to fix it yourself rather than filing a claim with your insurance company to avoid a premium increase.
To lower your premiums you can look into every possible discount available, increase the deductible, or switch providers.
How To File Mold Insurance Claims
You can file a mold claim the same way you file a regular homeowners insurance claim, with a few slight adjustments. To improve your chances of a successful claim, you need to take every step possible to prevent mold from forming. That way, the claims adjuster can see that youve acted responsibly to mitigate the damage, even if unavoidable mold begins to form. Before filing a claim:
- Dry all affected areas as quickly and thoroughly as possible
- Stop leaking pipes by shutting off the water to your house
- Remove soaked items such as carpeting, furniture, insulation and mattresses
- Open doors and windows and use fans to promote faster drying
- Clean all affected areas with detergent to prevent bacteria spread
- Cover damaged areas such as a hole in the roof or a broken window
- Take photos of all damage, including closeups and wide shots
- Contact your insurance agent to file a claim
If your policy doesnt exclude mold damage for covered losses, its best to separate the mold repair expenses from other repair costs. For example, if storm damage soaks the drywall in your bedroom and mold forms, the contractor likely will charge you a mold remediation fee. List the mold remediation fee separately from the drywall removal costs. By separating the expenses, you can minimize the risk of a claim denial if the insurer doesnt want to pay for mold remediation.
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