Indoor molds are a form of fungus that commonly grow inside homes. Homeowners may notice patches of mold growing in high-moisture parts of their homes or in the aftermath of a flood.
Not only is mold growth unsightly, but it can cause damage to wood products, drywall, insulation, and other structures around a home. Mold exposure can trigger bothersome coughing and wheezing in otherwise healthy people, and mold may be more dangerous for homeowners with conditions like allergies or asthma.
Homeowners dealing with extensive mold growth may wonder if homeowners insurance covers mold removal and remediation. While every homeowners insurance policy is different, the reality is that often they do, pending the cause of the mold. Read on to learn more.
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What Kind of Mold Is Covered by Home Insurance?
Homeowners insurance policies may cover mold damage in some cases, though that depends on the cause of the mold. Typically, mold insurance coverage is limited to mold that forms directly from a covered event, such as a burst pipe. Insurance could help homeowners pay for various mold remediation services in these cases.
Musty odors are often the first clue that a home has a mold problem. Homeowners who search for the source of the odor may find one of the three most common indoor molds:
- Cladosporium: A soft-looking, green or brown mold that forms on carpets or furniture. You might also spot it under your sink.
- Penicillium: A bluish-green mold with a velvety or cottony texture. It can spread quickly in homes with water or flood damage.
- Aspergillus: A common mold that comes in many colors and can grow on damp surfaces throughout homes.
However, these are not the only molds found in homes. A well-known type, Stachybotrys chartarum, more commonly known as “black mold,” is a greenish-black mold that grows in constant moisture and may cause health problems.
Homeowners insurance policies may help cover the cost of remediating these and other molds. Depending on the insurer and the extent of the damage, this mold insurance coverage could include cleaning surfaces with visible mold growth or removing and replacing moldy materials.
What Kind of Mold Damage Is Not Covered?
Homeowners insurance policies do not cover some common types of mold damage. This includes mold that develops due to poor maintenance or negligence and mold that grows due to an unnamed peril, such as flooding. In addition, mold damage that is visible and not treated is also not covered by home insurance.
Homeowners insurance protects you from damage that’s considered “sudden and accidental.” It does not cover preventable damages or those that occurred over time, including damage from:
- Ongoing water leaks around sinks and tubs
- Moisture seeping into a poorly sealed basement
- Poor ventilation in damp rooms, such as bathrooms
- Roof leaks caused by normal wear and tear
Standard homeowners insurance policies generally don’t cover flood-related damages, including the extensive mold growth that homeowners may find when the floodwaters recede. A separate flood insurance policy can add coverage for water damage caused by floodwaters, but some, including National Flood Insurance Program policies, exclude mold damage.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Causes?
Mold problems may develop quickly in water-damaged homes, and homeowners insurance policies may or may not cover the event that allowed the mold to grow. Some causes of mold covered by insurance might include:
- Some plumbing leaks: Policies typically cover sudden and accidental leaks from within plumbing systems, such as burst pipes. As noted above, this doesn’t include ongoing leaks you failed to repair.
- Some appliance leaks: Unforeseen leaks from a water heater, dishwasher, washing machine, or other appliance might be covered, so long as it’s not due to poor maintenance or negligence.
- Ice dams: The weight of ice, snow, or sleet may damage roofs and allow water to leak inside the home, resulting in mold.
- House fires: Standard homeowners insurance policies cover fire damage, including water damage caused by firefighters trying to extinguish the flames.
- Windstorms: Tornadoes, hurricanes, and other wind events may damage walls and roofs, allowing rainwater to leak into a home. Note that homeowners insurance may not cover this cause of mold in some high-risk areas, such as Florida or Texas.
Consider a Mold Damage Rider or Endorsement
Policies that provide mold insurance coverage may cap that coverage at a fairly low limit, such as $1,000 to $10,000. Other policies may exclude coverage for mold entirely. In either case, you may have the option to add a mold damage rider or endorsement to your policies.
Riders or endorsements can get additional coverage that isn’t part of your standard policy. Some insurers offer mold damage riders that add more mold coverage to an existing policy. The amount of additional coverage available could vary depending on the insurer.
The cost of buying a mold damage rider or endorsement may vary based on the coverage you choose to add and the risk of mold growth in your home. Higher coverage levels may translate to higher premiums, especially for homeowners who live in states where mold damage is more common, such as Texas, Florida, and South Carolina.
How Mold Removal Works and What It Costs
Homeowners may be able to handle mold removal independently if the mold problem is relatively small, such as a patch of less than 10 square feet. But for larger mold cleanup projects, hiring a professional mold remediation service may be necessary. The cost may vary significantly from one mold removal project to another.
Professional mold remediation could include a wide range of services. Eliminating mold may sometimes be as simple as wiping down the area with a bleach solution. Cleaning mold from porous objects, such as carpets and furniture, may be more difficult, with many of your possessions requiring replacement. Remediating mold from hard-to-reach areas, such as behind walls, could require demolition and reconstruction of parts of the home.
Homeowners who hire mold removal professionals could expect to pay around $10 to $25 per square foot for cleanup. The average mold removal project costs around $2,251 but could be much higher for large or complex cleanups. For example, remediating a whole house could cost upwards of $30,000.
How to File a Claim for Mold Removal
The process for filing a mold insurance claim is similar to that of other homeowners insurance claims. If you have mold from an event you believe your policy covers, follow these simple steps:
- Notify your insurer: Call your insurance company to file your mold insurance claim and get details about the claims process. If the mold is related to a previous insurance claim, you may be able to reopen the claim and avoid paying another deductible.
- Document the damage: Take photos of the mold damage, both up close and from a distance, and make a list of damages. Include documentation of the covered event you believe caused the mold.
- Begin temporary repairs: Take steps to keep the mold problem from getting worse. For example, use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture and remove water-damaged items. Take photos of any debris you remove.
- Work with the adjuster: Insurance adjusters investigate claims and determine the monetary value of damages. The adjuster assigned to your mold insurance claim may visit your home to identify the underlying cause of the mold.
- Arrange for mold remediation: If the adjuster determines the insurance covers your mold damage, hire a mold remediation company. Your insurer may recommend specific companies.
How to Spot Mold and Protect Your Home
Mold grows quickly in high-moisture areas, but with careful maintenance and upkeep, homeowners can reduce the risk of mold growth and protect their homes. When mold appears, quickly finding and addressing the growth can help limit the damage.
Pay close attention to damp or humid areas where mold may form. Repair leaking plumbing promptly, ensure exhaust fans function effectively, and clean up spills immediately. Consider using a dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity below 50%.
To track down mold that might be growing, inspect parts of your home that have a damp or musty smell. Water stains or colored patches on surfaces could indicate that mold is present. Clean mold promptly to stop it from spreading and causing more damage. Even for small cleanup projects, gloves, eye protection, and an N-95 respirator are essential to protect your health.