If you’re a homeowner or rent a home, especially in states like Florida, Arizona, or California, you’ve likely smelled that distinctive odor of mold in the home and then you immediately begin to wonder does homeowners insurance cover mold?
In many cases, the odor is very subtle (especially if it hasn’t been there long) but in some cases, it can be very distinctive. Having lived in Florida for many years, I have walked in homes where the odor has been very strong but the homeowner didn’t notice it as much because he or she has lived there while the mold was growing (think of the frog in the hot water scenario).
First, we’ll talk about mold and how it grows in a home; then we’ll discuss whether your homeowners’ insurance will pay for its remediation.
What is Mold?
First of all, it’s important to understand that every home is susceptible to mold growing within it. No home is built to stay completely dry in fact, your home must provide for air to move through it.
Molds are a form of fungus. There are many different types, and they can occur both indoors and outdoors.
Molds produce spores, which spread by floating around in the air. Mold spores are present in all indoor environments. There is no way to prevent spores, and they can persist in conditions where mold itself cannot grow.
Mold spores thrive in environments that are moist and warm, so when they land on a damp spot, they begin to grow.
Molds can grow on a variety of different surfaces, including fabric, paper, wood, glass, and plastic. As they grow, they may digest the material they are growing on.
Can mold make people or pets Sick?
Yes, there are certain types of mold that can cause mild to severe health problems. This can be even more dangerous for people who already have issues with allergies or have existing respiratory problems or a weakened immune system from various other illnesses or medications.
As mold in your home continues to grow, cells, spores, and fragments of the mold can become airborne. When this happens, the occupants of the home can breathe in the mold spores (allergens, mycotoxins, and irritants) which can irritate a person’s lungs, nose, and throat.
There are thousands of types of molds, some of which can be dangerous to humans and their and others go unnoticed with no physical symptoms.
How do you remove Mold from a Home?
The type of mold and the size of it dictates whether the project can be DIY or if you need to call a remediation contractor to handle it.
Surface mold that typically appears in areas that get wet frequently like bathrooms, decks and the siding on your home can usually be removed with a solution of bleach and water (8 to 1) and a scrub brush. Just make sure that after removing the mold, you dry out the area as much as possible.
If you discover black mold in large concentrations (you’ll smell it) covering a few square feet or more, you’ll need a remediation service unless you keep a “HAZMAT” suit hanging in the closet.
Mold can be dangerous to breathe and even more dangerous to remove without the proper protection. People with allergies or other lung sensitivities should be wary about removing mold from their homes.
Will my homeowners’ insurance cover Mold Remediation?
Regretfully, there are two answers; yes and no. Mold removal is covered if the mold is a result of a covered peril under your homeowners’ insurance policy. Here are some examples of when your homeowners’ insurance will likely respond to a mold remediation claim:
- A pipe going to or from your water heater bursts and about 40 or more gallons of water are spilled in your home. This much water can seep into cracks in the flooring or get behind walls causing mold to grow without you knowing it. Since the sudden bursting of the pipe is a covered peril in your policy, the resulting mold remediation would be covered subject to your deductible.
- If your kitchen caught fire and the fire department doused the interior of your home with water, it’s likely that some of that water would find its way inside walls, floors or floor coverings, and in the ceiling, and end up causing a mold problem. Since the mold is a result of a fire that is covered by your homeowners’ insurance, the mold remediation would be covered as well.
- If, while away from home, a severe storm cracked a window in your home and flooded your home, your insurance company would respond to the mold claim since the mold is the result of a wind or rain storm which is covered by your homeowners’ insurance.
When will my Homeowners’ Insurance not cover Mold?
Regretfully, many homeowner insurance companies deny as many claims as they accept when it comes to mold damage and remediation and most homeowners are unaware that the mold must be a result of a covered peril. Here are some examples when you should expect to be declined:
- The mold growing in your home is the result of flood water entering your home. Your homeowners’ coverage would not pay for this since “flood” is not a covered peril in your homeowners’ policy. If you have flood insurance, your flood insurance policy would respond to your mold remediation claim subject to your deductible.
- If you have a mold problem but your insurance adjuster attributes the mold problem to poor maintenance, your insurance company will likely deny the claim.
- If you have a washing machine hose that has a small leak that has gone unnoticed over time and the water got behind the drywall and ended up growing mold inside the wall, your insurance adjuster will consider that a maintenance issue as well because you had not checked your washing machine hoses to make certain they were not leaking water.
Finally, it takes time for mold to grow in your home. If you discover mold in your home shortly after a covered peril occurred (like any listed above), your insurance adjuster will likely determine that the mold was there before the claim occurred and will likely consider that a maintenance issue as well.
Do Homeowners’ insurance companies offer a Mold Rider?
Many companies that offer homeowners’ insurance do offer an insurance rider to help with mold damage and remediation, but most of these riders have a separate limit and deductible that limits the company’s risk exposure. If you offered a mold rider when applying for homeowners’ insurance, make certain that you read and understand the terms, conditions, and limit of coverage that comes with the rider.
Frequently asked Questions
When will homeowners insurance pay for mold damage and removal?
Homeowners insurance will pay for mold damage and remediation if the mold is a direct result of a covered peril.
What perils are mold claims usually associated with?
Common perils that can result in a mold claim are:
– Sudden burtsting of water pipes
– Windstorm damage
– Snow and ice build up
When do insurance companies usually deny a mold claim?
If the mold claim is the result of poor maintenance or there is evidence that it is not the result of a covered peril, the insurance company will typically deny the claim.
Is mold dangerous to my health?
It can be, depending on the type of mold. Additionally, if you have alleries or breathing issues already, mold can become a serious health issue.