Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Mold?
Do you have mold in your home? It can be scary. You know you need to get rid of it right away and you also need to repair the damages. But does insurance cover the damages?
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Like many other issues with a home, mold is one of those ‘it depends’ issues. Yes, insurance does cover mold damage in some cases, but there are many ways that insurance companies can avoid it too. Most notably, you must be able to prove that the mold occurred due to circumstances outside of your control. In other words, it can’t occur because of a lack of maintenance on your part.
The Covered Perils
In general, home insurance only covers mold if it occurs as a result of a covered peril. The most common perils covered include:
- Storm damage
- Damage from snow or ice
- Frozen pipes
- Accidental and spontaneous water leaks
For example, if your pipes suddenly burst without cause, causing water leakage and mold growth, insurance companies will typically cover it. But, if your pipes froze and then a few weeks later thawed and exploded, causing water leaks and mold damage, it probably wouldn’t be covered. The insurance company will claim that you knew about the frozen pipes and could have taken steps to rectify the issue before they burst or before the mold had time to grow.
What Exclusions Apply?
Like any other issue, if there’s proof of a lack of maintenance in the home, the insurance company won’t cover the issue. Leaving even small leaks unintended, for example, is a lack of maintenance. The insurance company can usually tell when a leak just occurred and when it’s been around for a while.
Insurance companies also don’t cover mold growth from a flood. If you have flood insurance, you may get the coverage you need that way, but standard home insurance policies don’t cover floods. If you live in a flood zone, it’s important that you carry flood insurance as it could cover mold too.
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Filing a Claim for Mold
If you do find mold and think your insurance company will cover it, take the following important steps:
- Take care of the leak right away. Don’t let it sit for any length of time. This is your responsibility and homeowner’s insurance companies will hold you accountable. If you have to shut off the water supply, do it in order to stop the leak.
- Clean up the water or call in the professionals to do it for you if it’s extensive
- Remove anything that may grow mold, such as carpeting
- Keep the air circulating through the area and dry to remove the dampness
- Disinfect the area
Call your insurance company after you have done everything you can do to clean up the area. Take as many pictures of the incident that caused the damage as you can. Provide proof of any expenses you had to pay and what other damages still exist that need repairing.
Even as you clean up, don’t throw anything away. Insurance companies need as much proof as possible when deciding whether or not to cover your claim. If the materials have mold on them, store them in the garage or outdoors to avoid any more exposure in your home.
Ask your Insurer about Mold Insurance
If you live in an older home or an area that is susceptible to mold growth, you may want a mold policy in addition to your standard homeowner’s insurance. Talk with your insurance agent about the rider and its cost. Pay close attention to the fine print to see what it would cover to make sure that it make sense.
Homeowner’s insurance may or may not cover mold – it depends on why it happened. If you do your part and maintain your home and take care of any issues that occur as soon as possible, you may get the coverage you need. The key is to be proactive and as detailed as possible when dealing with the insurance company.
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