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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

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If you are concerned about mold in your home, you undoubtedly understand the danger. According to a documentary called Moldy, more than 50% of U.S. homes have a mold problem. Worse yet, 28% of the U.S. population carries a gene that makes them susceptible to mold-related health issues. If you're dealing with mold, you are probably wondering, "Does homeowners insurance cover mold?" Here, we'll answer that question as well as dive into how standard homeowners insurance deals with mold claims.

When is mold damage and removal covered by homeowners insurance?

Insurance carriers are very clear about whether homeowners insurance covers mold damage and removal. Some policies do not cover mold at all. Say you're located in an area that regularly floods or live near the ocean. Mold from water damage or humidity is such a predictable occurrence that insurers don't want to pay for its removal.

When an insurance company does cover mold, it is only under certain conditions. In a nutshell, it all comes down to what caused the mold and whether the thing that led to mold is covered under your policy.

Let's say your house caught on fire and the fire department sprayed tons of water putting it out. However, because the property remained damp after the fire department left, there is mold in the basement and main house. Does homeowners insurance cover mold? In this case, because fire damage is covered, so is mold resulting from the fire.

Here's a sample of situations in which mold is likely to be covered:

  • Fire
  • Weather damage to roof (including wind and hail)
  • Lightning
  • Falling objects damaging roof
  • Appliance malfunction
  • Weight of snow or ice on the roof
  • Frozen or burst pipes
  • Overflow from plumbing system, heating or air conditioning unit, or a household appliance

According to Hippo Insurance, mold is covered on a case-by-case basis. They call it "one of the more complex categories of your homeowners insurance policy." The tricky part is tracking down how the mold started and figuring out if the genesis of the mold is something that homeowners insurance would normally cover.

If the mold is due to a flood, you would need to have flood insurance in place for the mold to be covered.

How much will insurance cover for mold?

It depends on your policy. If mold is excluded, no amount of fighting with the insurance company will change that fact. For companies that do provide mold coverage, many insurers limit mold claims to between $1,000 and $10,000. Given that widespread mold throughout the house could cost up to $30,000 to remediate, you could find yourself out of pocket, even with a policy that covers mold.

When is mold damage and removal not covered by homeowners insurance?

Even if you learn that your insurance policy covers mold damage, there are situations under which they will not pay out. Your insurance company will not cover a claim if it is determined that it's a result of neglect. For example:

  • A continuously leaking showerhead
  • Windows that are not properly sealed
  • A leaking skylight
  • A leaking pipe that you have not attempted to repair
  • Any type of flooding, unless you carry flood insurance

Does renters insurance cover mold?

Typically, renters insurance does not cover mold. For any company that does provide such coverage, it again depends on whether the mold was caused by an event covered by your renter's policy or if it is due to negligence. So if the roof of your rental home is weighed down by ice, and water begins to seep in as the ice melts, any resulting mold may be covered.

However, if the kitchen sink has been leaking for weeks and you did nothing to keep the area below the sink dry, it is unlikely growing mold would be covered by your policy for two reasons: The mold was not due to a covered peril and you could have mitigated the problem.

Filing a mold insurance claim

It's important to address mold insurance claims the moment you discover mold. Getting someone out to begin drying the property within the first 48 hours can help contain mold growth. If you don't receive an immediate response from your insurance company, stick with it. Be courteous, but firm. The longer you wait, the more time the mold has to grow.

Insurers have different methods for filing a claim. Some will take your claim by phone. Others will encourage you to fill out an online form. Follow your insurer's lead.

No matter how the insurer prefers a claim be made, keep accurate and detailed records of everyone you speak with at the insurance company, including date, time, and what they told you.

How can I get insurance to cover mold?

How successful you are in getting the insurance company to cover mold depends on the coverage you've paid for. As you wait to hear back from the insurer, take a look at your homeowners insurance policy. If you don't have one, ask your insurance company to email you a copy. Check the "declarations page" for the following information:

  • Effective date of the policy
  • Policy limits for mold
  • When mold coverage is included and under what circumstances it is excluded

If your homeowners policy specifically excludes coverage for mold, there is nothing more that can be done and you'll need to begin remediation on your own. If they provide coverage in certain circumstances and your situation fits, you're in luck. It may take some effort on your part but taking the following steps will get the ball rolling:

  • After you call, send an email outlining the details of your claim, including when and where you found the mold.
  • Photograph or videotape all areas of mold and damaged property.

Make sure to not exaggerate the damage or loss. Doing so can give the insurer the right to reject the mold claim.

What to do if your claim is denied

If your claim is denied because your homeowners policy excludes mold damage or because the mold was caused by something other than a covered event, there's not much you can do but call a contractor who deals with mold and make repairs on your own dime. If you do have coverage but the insurance company continues to deny your claim, you have options. They include:

  • Stay calm. Insurance claim denials are not rare. A claim can be denied because the insurance company has a good reason. It may also be a matter of someone making a simple mistake.
  • Continue to keep accurate and detailed notes of all communications you've had with anyone from the insurance company. Document phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings.
  • The insurance company should have sent a denial letter. Read it over to learn why they denied coverage. If you did not receive a letter of explanation, request that they provide one.
  • File an appeal with the insurance company. When doing so, provide copies of evidence, including photos and videos. Also take photos of anything you did in advance to prevent the problem. For example, if the mold is caused by a roof with a history of leaking, take a photo of any receipts you have for supplies to repair the roof (before the latest incident occurred) or the receipt from the company you hired to make repairs.

If the insurance does not reverse its decision, you can contact your State Department of Insurance to file a complaint. Keep in mind, the State Department of Insurance can only help if your policy specifically includes mold coverage.

What insurance companies cover mold?

While not every homeowners insurance company covers mold, here are a few that will:

Lemonade

As with most companies that cover mold, Lemonade will take care of mold caused by a covered loss, like ice, frozen pipes, fire, or lightning. In addition, the mold must be hidden away -- in walls, beneath floors, or in ceilings -- for it to be covered. In other words, Lemonade requires the mold to be somewhere you would not normally notice by just walking by.

American Family

While American Family will not cover damage that occurs over time, they do provide coverage for mold caused by sudden and accidental events.

Nationwide

Nationwide emphasizes that mold must be a result of a covered peril. A Nationwide policy may also cap the amount it will pay toward mold remediation.

Buying additional mold insurance

If mold coverage is important to you, the first thing you should do is read through your current home insurance policy to learn if you already have it. If not, find out if your company offers a mold rider, an endorsement you can buy that adds mold coverage to your standard homeowners insurance policy. Just as you can purchase a home insurance rider for water damage, some companies allow you to purchase a mold rider.

If not, it's time to shop around for an insurance company that does offer the coverage you seek, even if it means adding a rider to your policy. Keep in mind, mold damage riders are not available in every state.

What do you do if you have mold in your house?

If you discover mold in your home you need to take action before it spreads.

Step 1: Check your homeowners policy to learn if mold is covered

Step 2: If not, call a professional mold remediation company to remove the mold

Step 3: If you can't afford a professional company, a home remedy may help. Before you begin, put a mask on to prevent breathing in mold spores, cover your clothes from head to toe, and wear gloves. One common home remedy includes baking soda and vinegar. Here's how it works:

  • Mix two parts baking soda with one part vinegar and one part water
  • Mix it into a thick paste
  • Spread onto the moldy surface and allow it to dry
  • Scrub the area. Repeat the process until the mold disappears

A home remedy may work for a small area of mold, like in a shower stall, but bigger jobs will almost certainly require the help of a professional crew.

Preventing mold growth

Ideally, you will be able to prevent mold from occurring in the first place. Here are steps offered by the CDC to keep your home mold free:

  • Keep humidity levels no higher than 50%
  • Use exhaust fans that vent to outside your home
  • Repair leaks to the roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have a chance to grow
  • Clean up and dry out your house within 24-48 hours of a flood
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting
  • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products
  • Remove or replace upholstery and carpets that have been soaked

Treating and removing mold

Whether homeowners insurance covers it or not, the best way to treat and remove mold is to leave the task to professionals. If you're on the hook to pay for the job, look into applying for a credit card with a 0% introductory offer or a low-interest personal loan. And because mold can lead to serious health problems, consider the pros and cons of a home equity loan to come up with the funds to make your home safe.

So, does home insurance cover mold? The answer is complicated. It depends on the specific insurance company and the precise wording of your policy.

FAQs

  • Only if you can afford to have the mold removed before you move into the home. A thorough mold inspection will give you a sense of how widespread the problem is and the estimated cost to remediate the problem. In some areas, mold is common, so if you decide to buy a home prone to mold, make sure you have adequate homeowners insurance coverage to cover any mold issues that may arise.

  • The cost depends on the amount of mold that must be removed. Widespread mold throughout a home can cost up to $30,000 to remediate.

  • It can be as inexpensive as buying a box of baking soda and a bottle of vinegar or as much as a new car. It all depends on the amount of mold you're dealing with.

  • Mold can make you and your family ill. If there is mold in your home, check first to learn if removing it is covered by your homeowners or renter's insurance policy. If it is, file a claim. If not, check into mold remediation services.

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