Does Home Insurance Cover Mold?
The situations when the removal of mold, mildew, or other fungi from your home may be covered by your homeowners policy
Mold plays an important role in our environment by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. Unfortunately, when it’s inside our homes, it does basically the same thing. Mold can eat away at wallpaper, drywall, carpet, wooden studs in walls, ceiling tiles, floorboards, and more. If not dealt with promptly, a mold infestation can cause these structures to rot and, eventually, cave in. Homes that are on or by the water can be especially vulnerable to mold because of the moisture and humidity constantly lingering in the air. As your local insurance professional, HIG wants to make sure homeowners in our coastal area are knowledgeable about what a standard homeowners policy typically will and will not cover if you find mold, mildew, or other types of fungi in your home.
When does homeowners insurance cover mold removal?
If mold in your home is the direct result of an event listed as covered in your homeowners policy, then your homeowners insurance will likely help cover the mold remediation costs. For example, fire is a catastrophe that is commonly covered by a standard home insurance policy. So, if the water firefighters use to put out a house fire leads to a mold issue in your home, a standard home insurance policy will typically cover the associated mold clean-up costs.
Just as often, though, mold in our coastal area homes is not the result of a sudden or unexpected event. Instead, it forms and spreads over time due to a constant or repeated seepage or leakage of water—through leaky plumbing, sinks, showers, bathtubs, windows, or roofs, for example—or because of condensation that accumulates as a result of humidity, moisture, or vapor in the home. This type of mold damage can go unnoticed by a homeowner for weeks, months, or even years as it is generally concealed within a home’s walls, beneath floors, above or within ceilings, or in an attic. It’s not until the mold, or the water damage that caused it, shows up on the outside of a wall or ceiling that a homeowner realizes something is wrong, goes searching for the source of the issue, and stumbles upon the mold growth.
If you immediately report this mold damage to your home insurance company, and take all reasonable means to save and preserve your property from further damage once you discover it, then your standard home insurance coverage typically will pay for the cost of:
- Removing the mold, mildew, or other fungi from your home
- Replacing any part of your home, or other covered structure on your property, that needs to be torn out to gain access to the mold
- Testing to confirm the presence, absence, or level of mold in your home
An important caveat about this mold coverage is that it is usually limited to a specific dollar amount that the insurance company has stated it is willing to pay up to, but not more than, for remediation. However, mold can require a substantial amount of time and labor to eliminate. The process typically consists of testing indoor air quality and surfaces, as well as developing and implementing a mold remediation plan, which includes removing, containing, and disposing of the mold. Depending on the extent of your mold issue, the costs of this process can easily surpass your policy limits, leaving you to pay any remaining clean-up expenses out of pocket.
Since mold is such a prevalent issue in our area, it might be worth talking to HIG about expanding the mold protection in your home insurance and increasing the limits. If you have a high value home insurance policy, you may already have additional mold coverage to help with remediation expenses, but to be sure you understand the mold coverage in your current home insurance policy, give us a call.
When is a homeowner responsible for mold issues?
As a homeowner in a coastal area, it’s critical to know that a standard homeowners insurance policy is not likely to cover the costs related to mold damage, removal, and remediation when the mold issue results from a natural flood disaster. Instead, a separate flood insurance policy may provide you with coverage for mold damage that results after flooding.
In addition, any mold issue caused by a homeowner’s neglect or lack of regular upkeep is typically not going to be covered. One example of this would be a homeowner who does not properly seal doors and windows—or leaves them open—allowing rainwater to enter their home. Below are a few more examples of common causes of mold that are generally not covered by a standard home insurance policy:
- Moisture accumulates in a poorly ventilated bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room
- Leaky plumbing goes unrepaired or is repaired improperly
- Not using a dehumidifier to keep a basement or crawl space dry
- Water backup or sump pump failure
Despite these and other mold coverage exclusions in a standard homeowners policy, there are available endorsements that homeowners can add to their policy that may broaden mold protection, including coverage for sump pump failure and water backup damage, as well as hidden water damage. The HIG team would be glad to speak with you about the value of having these optional coverages.
What if you find mold in your home?
If you see mold spots or smell mold’s signature musty and dank odor in your home, you need to address the issue without delay. A successful home insurance claim for mold depends on your being able to demonstrate that the mold resulted from a sudden and accidental occurrence and that you reported it immediately to your insurance professional when you noticed it.
The next thing we recommend you do if you find mold in your home is to take photographs or video of any property damaged by the mold infestation, as these images may be needed to support your insurance claim. If you have identified the cause of the mold issue, it’s also important to take actions to try to prevent any further damage. However, don’t make any permanent repairs until an insurance representative comes to your house to evaluate the damage and an agreement on the next steps and the cost of clean-up has been reached.
Please contact the HIG team for more information on how to minimize the risks of mold, water damage, home fires, and other similar threats. When you partner with our team, we will be there to help provide guidance and support through every step of the claims and mold clean-up process.