Is Mold Damage Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?
Most people are prudent enough to acknowledge the possibility of property damage and material loss from natural disasters or other accidents and make every effort to provide adequate protection against such unfortunate events – they secure their homes, maintain them in good overall condition, make disaster preparedness plans, purchase homeowners’ insurance, etc. Such reasonable precautions can limit the extent of the damage and/or help people recover from a disaster in a quick and efficient manner (in the case of home insurance, for example).
It is taken for granted that whenever you experience some kind of damage, your homeowner’s insurance will cover the restoration costs, easing the financial burden on your shoulders and providing you with the means to get your life back on track. However, this is not always the case. Standard home insurance policies don’t cover all types of damage – floods, earthquakes, and certain other perils, including mold growth, require additional coverage.
Mold is a very common problem (the mold spores exist in the atmosphere as a natural part of the environment and can spawn and grow into a full colony within days under the right conditions – high humidity level and an organic food source), so the large number of mold claims during the last several decades comes as no surprise. The standard homeowner’s insurance policy, however, only covers mold damage if the mold has occurred as a result of a covered peril.
Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Mold
While basic homeowner’s insurance typically excludes damage caused by fungi and bacteria, mold coverage varies from policy to policy:
- Some insurance policies contain exclusions, specifying that they will not cover mold removal and remediation, regardless of the source of the problem;
- Some policies cover mold removal only under specific circumstances;
- Others have limitations on mold coverage.
As a rule, homeowners insurance mold coverage depends on the cause of the mold problem. If mold results from a covered water loss, such as the sudden or accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from the plumbing system or a household appliance, the cost of mold remediation will be covered under home insurance. That’s because the reason for the claim is the covered peril, not the mold itself. The same is true for all types of covered perils:
- Burst pipes – homeowners policies usually cover sudden and accidental water issues, so you will be reimbursed for mold damage resulting from the excessive moisture caused by a burst pipe;
- Storms – homeowners insurance won’t pay for water damage that results from a leaky roof but if a tree falls and crashes through the roof in the middle of a rain storm, that type of damage will be covered. In this case, your insurance policy will also cover any resulting mold damage;
- Fires – homeowners insurance usually covers fire damage. So, if mold results from the excessive water used to put out the fire, your insurance policy will probably cover the mold removal as well;
- Sewer back up or sump pump failure, if you have that coverage included in your insurance policy.
Standard insurance policies, however, do not cover water damage as a result of neglected home maintenance – continuous water seepage or repeat leaks, ongoing humidity problems, landscaping or drainage problems, condensation, etc. Besides, most homeowner’s policies exclude flood damage, so mold growth resulting from flooding will probably not be covered (unless you have specialized flood insurance).
Homeowner’s insurance excludes coverage for ordinary mold damage because it is not accidental – mold growth can be prevented or controlled by the homeowner through home maintenance and repair.
Even when mold damage is covered, there may be limitations on the coverage. Most policies cap coverage at a certain amount – the amounts vary, depending on a number of factors, but a typical homeowner’s policy usually covers between $1,000 and $10,000 in mold remediation and repair. Some insurers may offer higher amounts of coverage, especially if your policy includes additional endorsements.
To know for sure if your policy will cover mold damage (and what kind of limits to expect), you need to read it very carefully and make sure you understand all the coverage details. If your policy doesn’t cover mold removal and remediation, you may want to consider purchasing extra coverage. This may save you lots of headaches and thousands of dollars down the road.
Extra Mold Coverage
If you want to maximize your coverage, you can purchase a mold rider as an add-on to your existing insurance policy. The premiums will vary, based on the area where you live (humid climates result in higher premiums) and the value of your home. Generally, newer homes will cost less to insure than older homes because modern constructions are considered less susceptible to water infiltration and are built with mold-resistant materials.
Have in mind that stand-alone policies that cover only mold damage will be more expensive than standard homeowner’s insurance policies with mold riders (you can expect to pay from $500 to $1,500 a year for a rider on an existing policy).
Have in mind that mold remediation is a very difficult, expensive and laborious process. DIY mold removal is usually inefficient and provides only a temporary solution to the problem. Only experienced mold remediation specialists can completely remove the mold, remediate the related damage, and prevent mold growth in the near future. They will ensure the excellent condition of your home and will guarantee that it remains mold-free for a long time. So, your investment in hiring professional mold removal services will pay off in the long run.
To be sure that your insurance will cover at least some of the related expenses, however, you need to find out in advance if your policy will cover a mold problem if one arises. Do not wait until you discover mold growth in your home to ask whether mold is covered by homeowners insurance or not – review your policy, research your options, and provide the best possible protection for your property.