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A homeowners policy generally covers mold only if it’s caused by a covered problem such as a burst pipe.
Homeowners insurance won’t pay for mold remediation due to flood damage.
There are certain types of coverage you can add to your homeowners policy to pay for some mold damage.
Whether mold damage is covered by your homeowners insurance policy largely depends on the cause of the mold. If you do find yourself up against mold damage, here are the options that may be available to you.
Does home insurance cover mold?
Mold is generally covered by homeowners insurance only when it's caused by a "covered peril" (an event or circumstance covered in your homeowners insurance policy, such as accidental water damage). For example, if your washing machine suddenly springs a leak and black mold develops on the floor underneath it, a homeowners policy will likely cover it.
Your homeowners insurance policy may also cover mold damage resulting from:
A broken water heater.
Water damage caused by extinguishing a fire.
A burst or frozen pipe.
Though your policy may cover mold damage from a broken appliance, it's unlikely that it'll pay to replace the device. This is because most insurers cover only the resulting water and mold damage, not the cause of the damage.
Some insurance companies have a cap on the amount they will pay for mold removal. So you may still need to cover some of the costs, even if your insurer accepts your claim.
It's essential to read your policy thoroughly to understand the extent of your coverage, as well as what you'll need to do should you have to file a claim.
When is mold not covered by homeowners insurance?
Mold caused by neglect or a lack of regular upkeep isn't typically covered by home insurance policies. This includes mold damage from:
Improperly sealed doors or windows.
An unaddressed leaky faucet.
Poor ventilation in a moist room, like a bathroom.
Below are a few other common causes of mold damage that typically aren't covered by a standard home insurance policy.
Sump pump failure and water backup damage. Damage caused by water backup and a sump pump failure can be costly and usually isn't covered by standard home insurance policies.
Many insurers will allow you to add sump pump failure and water backup coverage to your policy. Without this type of coverage, mold damage in those situations is unlikely to be covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Flood damage. Flooding is generally excluded from standard homeowners insurance coverage. Therefore, you must purchase additional flood insurance to be covered for flood damage.
However, even if you have flood insurance, your policy may not cover mold damage. For instance, if you purchase your insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, mold damage may only be covered if you can't access your home after flooding for specific reasons.
It's important to note that mold damage coverage varies by the flood insurance policy. If you are unsure about what your policy covers, be sure to talk to your insurer.
Other coverage options
Even though a standard home insurance policy doesn't usually cover the above situations, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Below are some additional coverage options that your insurer may offer.
Sump pump failure and water backup coverage can pay for water and mold damage from a backed-up drain, sump pump failure or clogged sewer line. However, sump pump failure and water backup coverage will likely not cover you against gradual issues such as water leaking in through your home's foundation. It also won't cover things like flooding caused by a rising river or lake near your home.
Hidden water damage coverage pays for damage from obscured water leaks, like a burst pipe behind a wall. This coverage could also cover mold cleanup. Since a mold claim likely won't be covered unless it's a direct result of accidental water damage, you may want to consider adding hidden water coverage to your policy. However, not all insurers offer this coverage.
What to do if you have to file a mold claim
Mold can start to form in as little as one day, so acting fast is important.
Stop the leak as soon as possible. If you have a water leak or burst pipe in your home, shut off the main water valve immediately. Make sure you know the location of the main water shut-off valve in your home ahead of time, so you aren't left scrambling in case of an emergency.
Document the damage. Take photos and videos of any mold and water damage you find. Make a list of everything that was damaged. Be as thorough as possible and do your best to avoid errors or exaggeration. False reporting, even if accidental, can work against your claim.
Clean up excess water, and dehumidify the area. Wipe up pools of water and use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to dry out the site. Place wet items outside in a secure area to dry. If you're having trouble cleaning up the water yourself, consider hiring a professional. Your insurance agent may be able to help you find trusted water removal contractors in your area.
Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. You don't want to make significant fixes before filing your claim, but once you've documented the damage, go ahead and make temporary repairs to protect your home from further damage. For example, if your basement is flooded, you may want to remove wet carpeting. Keep receipts for all purchases related to cleanup and repairs.
File as soon as you can. Read your policy and follow the claims procedure precisely as outlined, and do so as soon as you can.
Stopping mold before it starts
These tips can help prevent mold from growing in your home:
Inspect your pipes, faucets and hoses regularly, and fix leaks right away.
Make sure that rainwater is directed away from your home.
Keep humidity low in your house by using air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
Shore up your bathroom and kitchen ventilation by installing exhaust fans.
Avoid installing carpet in areas at risk for collecting moisture, such as a basement or bathrooms.
Regularly inspect your roof for leaks and keep your gutters free of debris.
Consider replacing the hoses to your dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator and other large appliances every five years.