Mold is a serious issue that most homeowners never think about. Left untreated, it can affect your family’s health and also damage your home. So when does home insurance cover mold? That usually depends on what caused it in the first place.
Here is some more important information about mold:
Mold is a form of fungus that uses moisture to grow on household surfaces. It is usually black, slightly fuzzy and may have specks of white, orange, green or brown.
Over time, mold eats away organic materials like drywall and wood, causing it to rot and fall apart. It’s important to report mold damage to your home insurance carrier right away, as the longer it sits, the more it grows.
Mold remediation is the process of removing harmful mold growth. A professional remediation team will assess the amount of mold in your home, dry out the affected areas and then remove the mold by applying a special fungicide or through other measures. Once the cleaning is done, you may need to repair certain damaged areas, such as your floor tiles.
When You’re Covered
Generally speaking, a standard homeowners insurance policy will only cover mold damage or removal if it’s the result of a covered peril that’s listed in your policy. Sudden or accidental water damage is an example of a covered peril.
- A water pipe bursts
- Your water heater ruptures
- Firefighters extinguish a fire with water
- A tree branch punctures your roof during a rain event
The amount of mold removal coverage that you have varies by home insurance carrier. Typically, the amount ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 per occurrence. You may be able to increase the limit of your mold protection coverage by purchasing a special endorsement from your insurance carrier.
When You’re Not Covered
Homeowners insurance won’t cover you if the mold growth is the result of a lack of maintenance or a long-term water seepage. For example, your claim will likely be denied if the mold is caused by:
- A long-term leaky faucet or pipe that you neglected to repair promptly
- Improperly sealed doors or windows that lead to water leaks
- Poor ventilation that leads to humidity buildup in your bathroom or some other mold-prone area
Additionally, homeowners insurance will not cover mold damage if the mold is caused by:
- Flood waters coming into your home – In some cases, a separate flood insurance policy may help cover mold damage.
- Sump pump failure – Depending on the claim, you may be covered for sump pump failure if you’ve purchased a water backup endorsement.
How Do You Know If You Have Mold
Mold can grow just about anywhere in your home where water and moisture is available. Here are some signs you may have mold growth:
|You might see mold in poorly ventilated places such as basements, beneath carpets, on tile and behind refrigerators.|
|If an area of your home smells musty, it might be due to hidden mold growth. It could be behind walls, beneath flooring or inside air ducts.|
|Exposure to mold can cause allergy symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, burning eyes, coughing and wheezing.|
How to Prevent Mold
Here are some proactive measures you can take to prevent mold from growing in your home:
- Install exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms to keep them dry. Use ventilating fans and dehumidifiers in other damp areas.
- Inspect your pipes, faucets, appliances and other water sources for openings where water can escape. Repair any leaks immediately so there’s no chance of standing water.
- Make sure your gutters and downspouts direct water away from your home. Standing water around your home’s foundation could spell trouble.
- Have your roof inspected regularly to make sure there are no potential leaks.
- Don’t install carpet in areas that are often damp or collect moisture, such as bathrooms and basements.
How to Treat Mold Damage
As a homeowner, it’s important to address mold damage right away, because the longer it sits, the more it grows. According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), if the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet—such as a patch of mold on a bathroom wall—you can try cleaning it yourself with mold-killing cleaning products.
For more extensive mold damage, follow these basic steps:
Supplemental Coverage Options
Most home insurance carriers offer additional coverages—or endorsements—that cover mold. While these endorsements will cost homeowners extra, they provide great peace of mind. Here are two examples:
- Water backup coverage: This additional coverage pays for mold damage that is caused by drain backups, sewer line clogs and sump pump failures.
- Fungi, rot and bacteria coverage: This standard coverage pays for property damage caused by fungi, which includes mold. If you wish, you can purchase a special endorsement that increases the coverage limit amount.