When you discover mold, your first instinct is to get professionals to remove it as soon as possible, especially if it is black mold. And, regardless of what species of mold it is, your second instinct is to ask “Does homeowners insurance cover mold damage?”
There’s a reason why the two questions above are prevalent.
Mold from accidental water damage can become a nightmare in more ways than one
First, mold exposure can lead to a variety of health problems. And, once mold growth starts, mold spores can easily spread throughout a home allowing the problem, and expense, to continue to grow.
Second, mold damage cleanup can be very expensive. Completely cleaning up a mold problem can take days to weeks. And, depending on severity, mold remediation cost could be hundreds to thousands of dollars.
The last thing any homeowner wants to learn is that their claim is denied, and the insurer will not pay for those expenses.
Understanding your homeowners insurance policy
Homeowners insurance can be complicated. And, the wording regarding mold damage cleanup in homeowners insurance policies is often vague and difficult to understand.
When you discover mold in your home and pay for its removal you don’t want to file a claim that is denied by your insurer.
Our best advice is to understand your policy ahead of time. If you have a specific concern about mold coverage, contact your insurance agent and see what your policy covers and if the insurance company offers a way to add mold coverage.
Homeowners insurance and mold damage
As outlined above, even if you have homeowners insurance it’s often unclear if that home insurance covers mold removal. Insurance companies provide coverage that varies widely. With that said, we’ve outlined when mold damage is clean-up is covered and when it is not below.
When mold damage remediation is covered
Generally speaking, the cost to remove mold is covered by insurance when the it is caused by water damage from a covered peril.
What is a covered peril? In insurance terms, covered perils are events which your insurance policy will cover. When filing an insurance claim, your insurer will reimburse you the amount the damage cost minus the policy’s deductible amount.
Covered perils where a mold claim is typically covered by standard homeowners insurance policies include:
- Burst pipe – Mold growth as the result of a burst pipe will likely be covered by a homeowners insurance policy. One important caveat is that the home owner must demonstrate they have taken steps to prevent mold growth.
- Frozen pipe – Like a burst pipe, mold remediation caused by a frozen pipe is likely covered by a standard homeowners policy.
- Malfunctioning appliance (refrigerator, dehumidifier or air conditioner) – The mold damage would likely be covered, but replacing the appliance itself would not. So, if mold is caused as the result of failing air conditioners in a home, the mold removal would be covered, but the insurance company would not pay to replace the air conditioning units.
- Water damage from fire fighters extinguishing a home fire – If fire fighters use water to put out a fire in a house, resulting mold cleanup of mold in your home would be covered by a homeowners policy.
- Water heater ruptures – Mold cleanup following the failure of a water heater is almost certainly covered.
While some policies may consider the following to be covered perils, some homeowners policies may not.
- Clogged sewer line – Mold caused by a clogged sewer line may or may not be covered depending on the insurer and policy.
- Sump pump failure – The failure which in turn causes a mold infestation might be covered depending on the policy.
When is mold clean-up not covered by insurance?
While there are plenty of situations above where mold removal is covered, a homeowners insurance claim to cover mold removal cost is likely to be denied if caused by lack of proper preventative measures or neglect. Examples include:
- Flood damage – Cleanup of mold caused by flood damage by a coastal storm surges, rain surge or other flooding event is usually not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.
- Leaky faucet – Mold removal costs due to a leaky faucet which has not been fixed would likely not be covered by an insurance provider.
- Poor ventilation – A mold colony that is the result of a poorly ventilated room or rooms is likely not covered by homeowners insurance. Dark, humid environments are optimal for mold spreading. An example of poor ventilation would be bathrooms or laundry rooms lacking exhaust fans.
Tips to get your mold damage claim approved
- Document the mold problem and removal with plenty of pictures. Clearly show the scale of the mold infestation and be sure to take close-up pictures so the type of mold can be identified. Provide these to your insurer when filing your claim.
- Use a professional mold remediation company which can evaluate and provide verification of the extent of the mold problem. A reputable mold inspection team will provide a detailed assessment of the mold problem, identify its source and list what efforts were required to completely remove it.
- If your initial claim is denied, get assistance from local authorities. Your state insurance commissioner can raise a complaint with the denial or help to get the claim approved by working with the insurer.
How much will insurers pay for mold damage
When caused by a covered peril, insurance policies usually state a maximum limit from $1,000 up to $10,000 for mold removal.
Home owners that live in mold prone states or that are concerned about hidden water damage can opt for an optional rider, increasing the amount of coverage.
Additional homeowners insurance coverage options
Surprised that mold resulting from a flood or sump pump failure isn’t covered in most cases? We were, too. But, many insurers offer water backup coverage, sump pump failure coverage (at an additional cost) as well as flood insurance policies.
Another question for your home insurance company is if they provide hidden water damage coverage. This coverage is for water damage that is caused by a water leak you cannot see. If your policy includes it, ask if mold damage caused by hidden water damage is also covered.
Important: Even with a separate flood insurance policy, mold coverage varies. For example, some insurance companies limit mold coverage based on the severity of the flood.
Tips to prevent mold growth
Proper home maintenance is the best way to control the growth of mold in your home. Tips include:
- Regularly inspect your home, including the basement, roof, gutters and crawl spaces. Look for areas where water could leak into the home and fix any problems you find.
- Think you may have a problem but aren’t sure? A home mold test kit is an inexpensive way to find out if mold is present in your home, the type of mold and its severity.
- Inspect pipes, water heaters and other appliances which use water. Repair any water leaks and completely dry any damp areas. If mold is present, use a mold killer to eradicate it. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to clean up the affected area.
- After cleaning up mold, or when prepping new surfaces for paint, use mold inhibitors to ensure mold growth doesn’t take hold in the future. There are also primers and paint which contain mold inhibitors. Be sure to wear a high quality mold respirator or mask and protective clothing.
- Install dehumidifiers in rooms which have excessive humidity to lower the moisture to acceptable levels. Moisture is one of the key ingredients for mold growth.
In summary: When does homeowners insurance cover mold damage clean-up?
While many home insurance policies include mold damage, the cause of the mold dictates if insurance companies honor claims.
Before you file a claim, preferably before you have a mold problem, find out the details regarding your plan and what coverage options exist.