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Homeowners insurance usually covers damage to your house from fire, vandalism, smoke, or weather events such as lighting, wind, or hail.

In the past, mold damage was covered as part of homeowners insurance, and insurance companies spent thousands of dollars on claims. Now, mold-related damages will be covered only if caused by a peril covered by the policy.

You should always ask your insurer about what is covered and what is not in your home insurance policy. Read your policy carefully, so you aren’t surprised when you need to make a claim.

Below, you will find everything you need to know about how and when mold-related damages are covered by your homeowners insurance. Read on to learn more.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Home insurance covers mold damage caused by a covered peril. Otherwise, an insurance company will likely not cover mold damage.
  • Your home insurance won’t cover you for mold damage if mold forms in your shower or a burst pipe in your basement goes unnoticed and results in mold.
  • Mold endorsements will cost you more if you live in humid areas and your home is made with materials more prone to mold.

Does homeowners insurance cover mold removal?

Home insurance covers mold removal depending 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," says David Ragsdale, Production Manager at Servpro Industries, a cleaning and restoration company.

One situation in which a home insurance company will cover the insurance claim is during winter when an ice dam causes damage. That’s because it falls under the "covered peril and timing" part of your policy.

"If a leak occurs but goes unattended for an extended period 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 says.

Home insurance covers common perils such as fire and vandalism and excludes some perils. You can add additional coverage to your insurance policy for some of those perils. Mold mitigation insurance coverage may be an option, but some causes of mold are not covered by home insurance. If the damage is from a flood, sewer backup, or water seeping from the ground, you’ll be paying out of pocket because those are not covered perils.

Does homeowners insurance cover black mold?

It depends.

Did you notice in the middle of a bathroom renovation that your bathtub had been leaking and mold grew? Homeowners insurance wouldn’t cover that because it would be considered negligent maintenance.

A standard homeowners insurance policy also likely wouldn’t cover mold damage caused by a leaky pipe under a kitchen sink because insurance companies expect you to perform regular home maintenance to avoid these problems. An insurance company could say that you neglected to fix the problem, which caused mold to grow.

If, however, there was a fire and the water used to douse the flames caused mold to grow, your homeowners insurance policy would cover the mold damage. Home insurance companies will cover sudden and accidental damage but don't cover damage that could have been prevented by maintenance.

When does homeowners insurance exclude coverage for mold?

Homeowners insurance excludes coverage for mold if the damages are due to the following:

  • Flooding. Home insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, including mold. A separate flood insurance policy will cover mold damage in most cases.
  • Water backup. If water backs up due to a broken pipe or a clogged sewer pump, the resulting mold will not be covered. You can add a water and sewage backup endorsement to your policy.
  • Poor maintenance. If there are any neglected leaks or broken seals around the sink and taps in the kitchen and washroom, insurance won’t cover the resulting mold.
  • Humidity. If the house is poorly ventilated, leading to high humidity, insurance won’t cover any mold that grows as a result.

How to make a mold insurance claim

If you find mold, don’t touch it. Document it with photos and reach out to your homeowners insurance provider.

The next step would be to review your homeowners insurance policy to see if it covers mold damage. You can also contact your insurance company about the coverage.

If you file a home insurance claim, your insurance agent or an adjuster will contact you and inspect the damage as part of the insurance claims process.

If your mold damage claim is covered, ensure only the applicable charges go toward the mold remediation limit. For example, if your laminate floor costs $2 per square foot to replace without mold and $2.50 per square foot to remove with mold, only $.50 per square foot should be charged to your mold limit. The rest falls under your dwelling coverage limit.

Don't be intimidated by the home insurance company, either. Most times, mold remediation companies have the expertise to assist in filing your claim, so bring one on board to help.

"If the mold damage is covered, [we] can handle all the aspects of the remediation and submit billing to the carrier on behalf of the policyholder,” Ragsdale says. “We can help a policyholder through the claims process but have no authority over what is covered or not."

Who pays for mold remediation?

Even if you file a successful claim with your insurance company for mold remediation, it won't be covered in full.

Is mold remediation cost covered by insurance? The insurance company covers mold remediation but not in full. The process of remediating mold from a property is time-consuming. It’s also expensive, with the average cost ranging from $15,000 to $30,000, according to ECI Insurance in Oklahoma. To mitigate these costs, insurers have sub-limits, which are limits on a particular type of coverage.

"Typically, insurance policies will state a maximum limit of between $1,000 and $10,000 for mold remediation. Depending on the company you're with, there may be an option to increase that coverage. However, if you live in a mold-prone state where there is a lot of rain, this coverage can be expensive or nearly impossible to obtain,” Ragsdale says.

And remember, there is no way to handle mold other than full remediation, so don't cut corners.

"There really is no shortcut to mold remediation. The source of the water/moisture must be corrected, non-salvageable materials will need to be removed, and the remaining affected surfaces will need to be cleaned,” Ragsdale says.

How do you know whether there’s mold in your home?

Mold is a type of fungal growth that spreads primarily on damp and decaying organic matter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are different species of molds, which come in various colors. There are different ways to know whether there is mold in your home.

A few things to look out for are:

  • A rotten smell. This is a smell caused by the presence of mold volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) and confirms the presence of molds in your home.
  • Fluffy and slimy-touching substances on the fibers of your clothes are another indication of a mold problem in your home.
  • Dirty carpets or rugs with stains can become a breeding ground for mold.
  • Areas in your home that are prone to moisture are breeding grounds for mold. A few such areas are the water heater closet, the kitchen sink, and around the shower or bathtub.
  • Discolored spots or spores are a sign of fungus developing in your furniture and become a breeding ground for mold, especially on furniture made of leather or foam.

Steps to take when you spot a mold problem

  • Stay out of the affected areas.
  • Turn off the HVAC system and fans.
  • Restrict access to the area with mold. If the mold is contained in one room or area with a door, close the door or cabinet to help with containment.
  • Contact your home insurance agent and/or a professional for mold remediation services.

What not to do when you see mold

  • Don't touch or disturb the mold.
  • Don't blow air across any surfaces with visible or suspected mold growth.
  • Don't attempt to dry the area yourself.
  • Don't spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.
  • Don't paint over it.

How can you prevent mold growth?

You can take steps to prevent mold growth before it becomes a bigger problem. A few of these steps include:

  • Keep the sink areas dry by wiping away any excess water.
  • If you are building a new home or remodeling an existing one, use mold-resistant materials.
  • Get a dehumidifier to keep your home free of excess humidity.
  • Lastly, you can go to a mold specialist to assess your home for mold issues. They can make recommendations to stop a problem before it worsens.

Frequently Asked Questions

How fast can mold grow?

In damp and humid surfaces, which are breeding grounds for mold, they can grow within 24 to 48 hours, according to FEMA.

Can you clean mold damage yourself?

If the mold area in your home is less than 10 square feet, you can handle mold damage yourself, says the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA). But if the mold area goes beyond 10 square feet, it is advised to consult a mold remediation expert for the cleaning and removal.

Is it okay to paint over mold?

No, it is not advised to paint over a mold, as it is a fungus and can easily grow in moist and damp surfaces. Even mold-resistant paints will only restrict the growth of the mold, they won’t kill the mold. To get rid of the mold, you should contact a mold remediation company.

Sources

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