Whether homeowners insurance covers mold or not has been a topic of debate for decades. In many cases, whether or not your homeowners insurance covers mold in your home is often based on the source of the moisture that causes the mold and the wording of a policy. But there is a lot more to the issue of mold coverage.
Here’s a look at homeowners insurance and mold coverage situations.
Homeowners Insurance And Covered perils
The goal of buying homeowners insurance is to get cover against various types of home damage, theft or vandalism, etc. Many people wonder whether homeowners coverages include mold. This is a good question to ask when you’re purchasing homeowners insurance, especially if your home is a little older and you want to avoid costly surprises.
Covered perils are instances of damage or situations in which you’re eligible to file an insurance claim. In your policy, you will have a list of covered perils depending on the type of coverage you purchase. Some of the covered perils in home insurance include:
- Fire and lightning
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Damage caused by falling objects
- Frozen pipes
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleetAccidental water overflow or discharge or steam discharge from heating, plumbing, air conditioners, household appliances, or sprinkler systems.
As you may notice in the list above as in many lists of covered perils, mold is not usually included in the covered perils of homeowners insurance. Insurers don’t particularly name mold as a covered peril.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?
If you are wondering if homeowners insurance covers mold, you should know that there is no clear cut answer.
Typically, standard homeowners policies don’t name or cover mold damage. In many cases, mold is only covered when the source of the mold is a named or covered peril. For example, water damage. Because a standard homeowners policy protects you from different forms of water damage – sudden and accidental – such as an overflow from a malfunctioning AC unit or burst pipe, it will also provide coverage for the cost of mold removal or damage resulting from mold.
The keyword here is “resulting damage” from the covered peril because homeowners insurance generally covers mold only to an extent. You need to differentiate between the resulting damage and the initial damage because if the mold was pre-existing, it would not be part of the cover.
Other examples of situations when homeowners policy can cover mold damage include when mold is a result of:
- Water damage that arises from a burst water heater
- Water leaks linked to malfunctioning appliances
- Water damage resulting from firefighters extinguishing a home fire
Mold Caused By Floods And Other Acts Of Nature
In some cases, molds grow as a result of water damage from outside forces such as floods. Whether your homeowners policy covers mold in that situation depends on what caused the damage in the first place.
Many homeowners policies do not provide coverage for mold that results from storm surges, like floodwaters. That’s because a standard home insurance policy doesn’t include coverage for flood damage. You need flood insurance to cover flood damage. You can purchase flood insurance as an add-on to your homeowners policy.
However, your homeowners insurance policy may provide coverage for mold that occurs because of other acts of nature, such as a hurricane or an ice storm. For example, if in the event of a hurricane your roof tears and water gets inside your home, causing mold, you may file an insurance claim if your policy covers water damage.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold That Results from Negligence?
Sometimes the mold growing in your house can be a result of your negligence. Negligence simply means that you’re ignoring repairs and home maintenance to the extent that allows mold to develop.
Mold is typically not covered by your homeowners policy if it occurs because of your neglect or lack of upkeep. If insurers discover that you could have prevented the mold from occurring, but you knowingly neglected it, they’ll not reimburse you and may penalize your claim request.
Examples of situations when mold is not covered include:
- When your bathtub has leaked for a long time, resulting in a mold infestation in your home
- When you live in a humid climate but fail to use a dehumidifier in your home’s basement, allowing black mold to grow
- When a storm causes flooding, which then causes mold growth in your home. Your homeowners insurance will not allow mold claim because flood is not a covered peril
How Do I Find Homeowners Insurance Coverage For Mold?
If you live in an area with high humidity or that is prone to mildew, you may need routine home maintenance to fend off moisture and subsequent mold. You may meticulously clean your home and carry out routine maintenance, but mold could still grow unnoticed and cause extensive damage. In this case, you may have some mold insurance coverage options.
Homeowners policies that include mold remediation: In some homeowners policies, for instance, policies for high-value homes, you will get more coverage automatically, which includes mold coverage.
Mold insurance riders: Some insurance companies offer a mold-damage rider that you can add to your policy. Insurers use the rider to remove any policy exclusion for mold.
Note: Not all insurers offer insurance rides for mold damage. You can check with your insurance agent or company if they have such an offer.
How to Avoid Having a Mold Damage Claim Denied
A little home improvement can help you to both prevent mold and improve your chances of having your claim approved when you incur loss or damage from mold;
- To prevent mold from infesting your home, you can do the following;
- Regularly check fittings and plumbing pipes for leaks.
- If you live in a humid area, install dehumidifiers in your basement or any area that is prone to dampness.
- Adequately ventilate your bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and other areas where mold may have an easy opportunity to grow.
- Keep your gutters clean to prevent ice dams from forming during winter. This can help you prevent leaks and hence prevent molds.
- Regularly check and inspect your roof, doors and windows, and all other areas that could allow water to leak in and give mold an opportunity to grow in your home.
- Routinely check your appliances, including the water heaters, for signs of damage or leaks.
On the other hand, if you have to file an insurance claim for mold damage, here’s what you need to do:
Make sure you properly document the damage from the mold using photos and/or video.
- If you’ve been repairing and maintaining your home, provide the insurer with up-to-date home maintenance records and repairs
- Follow all the insurer’s guidelines and instructions to process the claim
- Finally, contract an insurer approved mold removal company to clean up the mold and repair any resulting damages
You shouldn’t wait until your home has mold grown or growing to repair it or file for an insurance claim. Repair your home, keep it maintained, and clean your home to avoid negligent situations that can allow mold to grow. This will also increase your chances of a successful claim. If your insurer does not offer an option for mold, you can buy it as an add-on to your insurance just to be safe in case mold infests your home.