Mold is more than just a smelly eyesore – it can also cause serious problems to your home and your health. Some types of molds cause more problems than others. While everyday household mold can slowly spread year-round in some climates, it can grow out of control following a calamity that causes water damage to your home.
Performing regular cleaning and home maintenance is the best way to control everyday mold. But if disaster strikes and you need professional mold removal will your homeowners insurance cover the cost? It’s important to understand your home insurance coverage before you file a mold damage claim. Otherwise, you may end up with an expensive problem when mold creeps into your life.
Does home insurance cover mold?
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. Typically, standard homeowners policies don’t cover mold damage. Policies that do cover mold damage often limit the amount the provider will pay and only cover mold caused by a named peril. For example, if a storm breaks a window in your home causing rainwater to soak your carpeting and lead to a mold outbreak, your homeowners policy may pay to replace the carpet depending upon your deductible and mold limit.
However, along with named perils, homeowners insurance also list exclusions. Usually, homeowners policies list mold damage as an exclusion, but some insurers offer mold riders. Purchasing the optional coverage is a good idea because mold removal costs $10 to $25 per square foot. In our broken window scenario, the insurer may pay to replace the carpeting due to rain damage, but you could end up paying thousands of dollars out of pocket for mold remediation.
Homes can face severe mold problems following a flood but standard homeowners policies don’t cover flood damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency makes flood insurance available through its National Flood Insurance Program, however the coverage doesn’t cover mold damage.
Typically, standard home insurance policies don’t cover damages caused by sewage backup. However, most providers offer sewage backup coverage as an add-on to homeowners policies. Nonetheless, even if you have sewage backup coverage, if a sewage problem leads to a mold outbreak, your policy may not cover mold remediation.
Home insurance companies often deny claims when they determine that negligence caused damage. For instance, if you fail to fix a leaking washing machine hose and water damages the adjacent wall, the insurer probably won’t pay to replace the sheetrock. Likewise, if negligence leads to a mold outbreak, the provider likely won’t pay for repairs, even if your policy covers mold damage.
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. Oftentimes, 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
Frequently asked questions
How much does it cost to get rid of mold in your home?
Mold remediation is expensive, typically costing $10 to $25 per square foot.
How long does it take to get rid of mold in a house?
The time it takes to remove mold will depend on the extent of the mold outbreak. For normal household mold that grows around sinks and in bathrooms, you can remove it within a few minutes during your weekly house cleaning routine. But if you allow mold to spread, it could result in an outbreak that could require many hours or days of professional mold removal.
What do you do if your mold claim is denied?
If mold isn’t listed as an exclusion in your homeowners insurance policy and the provider denies your claim, you can appeal the ruling with the insurer. If you believe the insurer has treated you unfairly, you may also file a complaint with your state’s department of insurance or the Better Business Bureau. Unfortunately, if your home insurance policy lists mold damage as an exclusion, you’ll likely have no recourse if the insurer denies a mold damage claim.
Does homeowners insurance cover mold caused by flood damage?
No. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage or a mold outbreak caused by flood damage. You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, but unfortunately, it doesn’t cover mold damage, either.