At least 1,000 species of mold are common to the United States, according to the New York-based trade group the Insurance Information Institute. A breakout of splotchy mold on walls not only looks disgusting but also is a health risk that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can bring about symptoms similar to allergies or even breathing difficulties.
Despite the threat, a standard homeowners insurance policy generally either limits coverage for mold damage or outright excludes it, says Loretta Worters, an Insurance Information Institute vice president.
Some insurers offer an endorsement to expand coverage limits for mold claims but only if you are willing to pay more for your insurance, she says.
The best cure for mold is to prevent it from growing in the first place. If the basement floods after a rainstorm or a pipe is leaking, eliminate the moisture promptly, Worters says.
"Even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours," she says.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says homeowners generally can clean up mold themselves if the affected area is less than about 10 square feet. Otherwise, it is best to call in an expert.