When it comes to having mold in your house, the issue can result in a lot more than just a smelly eyesore. Mold can also result in major issues with your home and even more serious health problems for you and your family. As with any other type of issue, though, there are some types of mold that can be more hazardous to your home and health than others. And, the extent of the issue can also have an impact. While some types of household mold may spread slowly, a plumbing issue, like a burst pipe or a broken sump pump, can result in water damage to your home, which may cause the mold issues to grow out of control.

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If you want to control everyday mold issues in your home, regular cleaning and home maintenance is often the best way to do so. However, if water damage occurs to your home, or if a mold issue grows out of control, you may need to turn to professional mold removal services instead. But will your homeowners insurance cover mold or pay for the cost of mold removal? Before you file a claim for mold damage, it’s important to understand your home insurance coverage.

Does home insurance cover mold?

In most cases, homeowners insurance policies do not cover mold damage. When you purchase a homeowners insurance policy, your insurer will outline the named perils that are covered by your policy. Generally, named perils such as fire and smoke, hail, explosions, vandalism, theft and falling objects are covered. Water damage and its secondary effects (like mold) are a little trickier and whether your policy will cover that damage usually depends on the source of the damage. Because mold remediation can cost up $10 to $25 per square foot, purchasing an optional mold rider may be a worthwhile investment if your insurance carrier offers that coverage.

Mold caused by covered perils

If your home is damaged by a covered peril and results in mold, your homeowners policy may provide coverage. For example, if a storm breaks a window in your home, causing rainwater to soak your floors and walls leading to a mold outbreak, your policy may pay to remedy the damage because the storm was a named peril. Similarly, if a burst pipe causes extensive water damage and results in mold, your homeowners policy may provide coverage to remove the mold as part of the mitigation effort to restore your property. Any coverage would be subject to your deductible and any mold coverage limit applied by your property insurer.

Mold caused by flooding

Flooding is one of the main causes of mold damage because it can be a lengthy amount of time after a flood before mitigation efforts begin. According to the EPA, mold growth can begin within 24-48 hours after flood damage. Unfortunately, flood damage is not a named peril covered by a standard homeowners policy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency makes flood insurance available through its National Flood Insurance Program, but the coverage may exclude mold damage.

Mold caused by sewer backup

Water damage caused by a sewer backup is not a covered peril on a standard homeowners policy. However, most property insurers will offer an optional sewer backup as an endorsement. If you have purchased the sewer backup add-on, your policy may extend coverage to mold resulting from the sewer backup through the mitigation process, but generally, mold caused by a sewer backup is not covered. In this case, you may want to inquire about a separate mold rider or mold policy.

Mold caused by negligence

Home insurance companies usually deny claims when the investigation determines that negligence caused the damage. Negligence is not a named peril, and therefore mold damage caused by it would not be covered under your homeowners policy. For example, if your dishwasher is leaking and you do not tend to it right away, any resulting damage from the leak can be denied by your insurer, leaving you to pay out of pocket for the repairs.

How to file mold insurance claims

You can file a mold claim the same way you file a regular homeowners insurance claim, with a few slight adjustments. To improve your chances of a successful claim, you need to take every step possible to prevent mold from forming. That way, the claims adjuster can see that you’ve acted responsibly to mitigate the damage, even if unavoidable mold begins to form. Before filing a claim:

  • Dry all affected areas as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
  • Stop leaking pipes by shutting off the water to your house.
  • Remove soaked items such as carpeting, furniture, insulation and mattresses.
  • Open doors and windows and use fans to promote faster drying.
  • Clean all affected areas with detergent to prevent bacteria spread.
  • Cover damaged areas such as a hole in the roof or a broken window.
  • Take photos of all damage, including closeups and wide shots.
  • Contact your insurance agent to file a claim.

If your policy doesn’t exclude mold damage for covered losses, it’s best to separate the mold repair expenses from other repair costs. For example, if storm damage soaks the drywall in your bedroom and mold forms, the contractor likely will charge you a mold remediation fee. List the mold remediation fee separately from the drywall removal costs. By separating the expenses, you can minimize the risk of a claim denial if the insurer doesn’t want to pay for mold remediation.

How to prevent mold in your home

Mold is more than a household headache; it can cause serious health problems, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with allergies, diseases that weaken the immune system and respiratory diseases face the highest mold-related health risks.

It’s almost impossible to keep your home mold-free all the time, but with proper maintenance, you can prevent mold from getting out of hand. Often, you can smell the musty odor of mold before you see it or feel a slimy substance when you touch surfaces. Dry mold can grow in linens and pillows and form around dressers, shelves and heating and cooling vents. To prevent mold, regularly follow a few lifestyle and maintenance tips:

  • Dry spills immediately.
  • Regularly check pipes and appliance hoses for leaks and replace hoses before they spring a leak if possible.
  • Clean surfaces like bathroom tile and ceramic floors with mold-killing products, like bleach.
  • Install exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Maintain a humidity level of 30% to 60% inside your home.
  • Paint walls and ceilings with paint that contains mold inhibitors.
  • Remove carpets from damp areas, like bathrooms and basements.
  • Don’t allow water to accumulate in water reservoirs of house plants.
  • Inspect your roof and attic for water seepage and promptly make repairs as necessary.
  • Clean debris from gutters to ensure proper water drainage.
  • Seal windows and doors to prevent seepage and keep out moisture.

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