Mold can happen to anyone. And when it shows up in your home, it can lead to dangerous and unhealthy conditions, not to mention high clean-up costs.
But does homeowners insurance cover mold? The answer to that question depends on what caused the mold – and your policy.
The good news: many homeowners insurance policies cover mold damage, at least to a certain extent. Let’s look at how homeowners insurance covers mold and how you can minimize the risk of mold taking over your home.
When Is Mold Covered by Home Insurance?
For mold to be covered, it has to be the result of a covered peril. For example, let’s say a tree branch damages your roof and leads to a leak that causes water damage and subsequent mold growth. Most homeowners policies are likely to cover at least some of the mold damage in that scenario.
Our policies have limited coverage for “fungi, mold, wet or dry rot, or bacteria,” which typically includes:
- Up to $10,000 of coverage for losses to your home or personal property.
- Up to $50,000 of coverage for damage to a third party because of exposure to fungi, wet or dry rot, yeast, or bacteria (e.g., if a guest inhaled mold spores at your house and got sick as a result).
The average cost of mold remediation in the United States is $2,245, with high-end jobs costing about $6,000. Note, however, costs can fluctuate by region. But generally, the coverage limits listed above should be adequate for typical mold remediation work.
When Isn’t Mold Covered by Home Insurance?
Not all mold claims are covered by home insurance. That’s important to know because mold can pop up for a lot of reasons. For instance, mold usually isn’t covered if it’s caused by an uncovered peril. Flood damage is a good example of this. External flooding is seldom covered by a homeowners policy, so mold caused by a flood is usually not covered.
Your insurer might also deny coverage if the mold was caused by your negligence. If you have mold growing in your house because you ignored a leaky pipe, then your insurance company most likely won’t pay for mold remediation.
And lastly, your insurance company usually doesn’t cover mold damage that was already in your home before you purchased your policy. Unfortunately, home inspections don’t always check for mold, but you can ask an inspector if they see any obvious signs of water damage and the possibility of mold.
Absolute Mold Exclusion in Insurance Policies
Some insurance policies have an absolute mold exclusion. This means that no matter what caused the mold, the insurance company will not pay for the damages. These are rare in homeowners insurance, but you should find out if your policy has one.
The best way to understand exactly when your home insurance covers mold remediation is to read your policy. But if the legalese gets to you, give us a call at 855-216-7674 and we’ll be happy to help!
What Water Damage Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
In most cases, homeowners insurance covers the sudden or accidental discharge of water in your home. That means most home insurance covers water damage from perils like:
- Burst pipes.
- Household appliances that malfunction or flood.
- Water that gets in because of a covered event (like a tree falling on your roof).
- Water damage caused by hail or wind.
If water damage from these and similar events cause mold and your policy offers mold coverage, then your insurer may pay for mold remediation. But remember – home insurance seldom pays for damage from floodwaters. For that protection, you need flood insurance, which may offer coverage for mold caused by surging water.
What to Do If You Have a Mold Claim
Mold can form very quickly, so you want to act fast if you experience water damage. That means:
- Shutting off the main water valve.
- Wiping up the water.
- Dehumidifying or drying out the area.
- Making any temporary repairs.
These steps help mitigate your damage, which is one of your duties as a policyholder.
Next, you want to document your damage – including the mold. Make a list of every item that was damaged, and take pictures or videos of the mold and water damage. You may also want to create a timeline from when the loss happened to when the mold started growing and keep receipts for any temporary repairs. These are all things that can support your insurance claim.
Finally, file a claim with your insurance company. Most insurance companies have a way to file claims online, but at the very least, you should be able to call your insurer’s claim department. Once you’ve filed, stay in contact with your insurance company to assist in its investigation.
How to Test for Mold in Your House
The best thing to do if you suspect you have mold is to hire a professional to test. However, the site Family Handyman says you can test for mold by dipping a cotton swab in diluted bleach (one part bleach to 16 parts water) and dabbing it on the wall. If the spot grows lighter quickly or keeps coming back after cleaning, then it could be mold.
Damp and humid areas are more prone to mold, so you check for growth:
- In bathrooms and shower rooms.
- Behind your refrigerator and below your sink.
- Beneath stacks of newspapers or cardboard.
- Behind drywall in spaces that contain plumbing lines.
- Behind the wallboard around leaking windows.
- In ventilation ducts.
- Under carpeting that was once wet.
- Behind acoustic ceiling tiles if your roof is leaked.
- Behind any drywall that has seen flooding.
How to Prevent Mold in Your House
The good news about mold is that prevention is largely a matter of standard home maintenance. You may be able to prevent mold in your house by:
- Keeping your roof updated and watertight.
- Caulking cracks that could let water in.
- Updating windows and doors to prevent leaks.
- Maintaining plumbing and appliances that use water.
- Repairing damage when you see it.
That last point is important: mold damage is, in the beginning, mostly an aesthetic problem. But over time, it can weaken the infrastructure of your home and lead to serious damage or even injuries. So as with most home maintenance projects, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Editor’s note: This content was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for accuracy.