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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 one of the "named perils" (events or circumstances covered in your homeowners insurance policy, such as accidental water damage). So, for example, mold caused by a burst pipe or an appliance suddenly malfunctioning will likely be covered by insurance.
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 insurers 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 policy 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 generally isn't a named peril under standard homeowners insurance policies. Therefore, you must purchase additional flood insurance to be covered for flood damage.
However, even if you have flood insurance, it's possible your policy may not cover mold damage. For instance, if you purchase your insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, mold damage may only be covered if you cannot 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.
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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 protect you against water and mold damage from a backed-up drain, sump pump failure or a 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, be aware that your insurer may not offer this type of coverage, so check to see if it's available.
What to do if you have to file a mold claim
Mold can start to form as early 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 as quickly as possible. 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. Any false reporting, even if accidental, can work against your claim.
Clean up excess water, and dehumidify the area. Wipe up any pools of water and use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to dry out the site. Take any wet items and place them 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 professionals in your area.
Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. You don't want to make significant changes before filing your claim, but once you've documented the damage, go ahead and make the temporary repairs needed to protect your home from further damage. For example, if your basement is flooded, you may want to remove wet carpeting. Be sure to keep a record of your receipts regarding any purchases you make for temporary 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 any 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.