If mold grows and spreads in your home, it can cause substantial damage to your property’s structure, its contents, as well as yourself and your family.
Mold is composed of small strands called “hyphae.” These threadlike structures group together to make mycelium. As mold grows, it emits spores and produces allergens, irritants, and mycotoxins into the air. Some of these are toxic, especially to people and structures sensitive to them. Even worse—in certain cases, your homeowners insurance won’t cover it.
In this post, you’ll learn how to keep your family, property, and savings account safe from mold exposure. I will discuss:
Let’s get started with this post.
What Mold Damage Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Before you get a new home insurance policy or renew the one you currently have, you should know what your policy covers.
A standard homeowners insurance policy can be vague about when it does and doesn’t cover mold damage. Often, policies only cover mold damage when the presence of mold is the result of something else you have coverage for. For example, if your home insurance policy covers water damage, and the mold-related damage stems from that water damage, then your claim will likely cover mold.
Since standard homeowners insurance policies cover water damage caused by something sudden and accidental, you have mold coverage in this case. If your water damage is due to maintenance negligence, your policy might not cover it.
Here are a few examples of when your homeowners insurance policy will cover mold:
What Mold Damage Isn’t Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Mold caused by poor upkeep or homeowner negligence is usually not covered by homeowners insurance. For example, if your kitchen faucet has been leaking for months, or if your bathroom is poorly ventilated, your home insurance is unlikely to cover you.
In other cases, you may need an additional policy or endorsement to provide coverage for mold damage. Here are a few add-ons to consider.
Floods are not a covered peril for most standard home insurance policies, so if mold damage is due to a flood, it won’t be covered.In some cases, even flood insurance won’t cover mold. If you buy a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you might only have mold coverage if you’re unable to access your home after a flood, or for comparable reasons.
Hidden Water Damage Coverage
Hidden water damage covers you for obscured water leaks, like if you have a burst pipe behind one of your walls. Mold removal is often included in this coverage, since a burst pipe is likely the result of accidental water damage.
Sump Pump Failure And Water Backup Coverage
If you have a backed-up drain, a clogged sewer line, or sump pump failure, and you accrue mold damage because of it, this coverage can also include mold removal. However, if this is a gradual or ongoing issue, it could be considered homeowner negligence and not cover mold damage.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Rid of Mold In Your Home?
Mold removal costs can get expensive, especially if you’ve been negligent.
According to Home Serve, the average price for mold remediation or removal costs between $500-$4,000. Mold removal itself costs around $1.25 per square foot, and a cleaning solution can cost anywhere from $1-$9 per square foot.
Other services involved in mold removal include:
The location mold is growing in your home and different mold forms can also impact the price. For example, if mold is growing somewhere that's easily accessible, like the surface of your bathroom wall, it will cost less to remove than if it’s hidden behind the wall. For that reason, surface-dwelling molds are cheaper to remove than the types that eat through your surface and dig deep into the core of your wood, concrete, and drywall.
How Much Will Home Insurance Cover For Mold?
Homeowners insurance policies usually limit mold coverage to somewhere between $1,000 and $10,000 for mold remediation. Many insurance companies are reluctant to assume the additional risk when it comes to mold, because mold damage can cost well over $20,000, even $30,000!
When living in mold-prone states, like Florida, and other states that are also moist and/or humid, getting coverage can get expensive.
How To Make A Mold Claim
Making a mold damage claim is important, especially since many policies are vague about what they constitute as coverage. Often, insurance claim adjusters, representatives, and consultants will tell policyholders that mold has existed in houses as long as people have lived in them. While this may be true, that doesn’t mean mold has always existed in your house.
If you’re just buying a property, get it inspected for mold first, in case the former homeowner was negligent in their upkeep. That should be their problem, not yours.
If you believe you might have mold and can’t get rid of it yourself, contact your insurance agent immediately, and make sure you put everything in writing to ensure the claim is documented.
If you’re filing a mold claim after a flood or burst pipe, getting a mold remediation team to your home within 48 hours to begin drying your property can be crucial to containing or preventing mold growth.
In every conversation you have with your agent, take detailed notes and get all the contact information you may for everyone involved.
Additional Ways To Help Get Your Mold Claim Approved
What If My Claim Gets Denied?
Mold insurance claims are tricky. Often, an insurance company will try to determine if the mold directly correlates with something covered in your policy. If there’s reason for them to suspect it’s not (for example, if they deem it due to poor upkeep), your claim will likely be denied. If it is, you can do one or more of the following:
Understanding What Types Of Mold Can Grow Indoors
Mold is a type of fungus that grows in multiple environments. When indoors, optimal growth conditions include places where there’s darkness, oxygen, and, most importantly, moisture.
Not all mold is bad, but certain types move fast and can be incredibly destructive. Mold can easily grow and spread without you knowing it. Many people don’t know they have mold until they see or smell it, which we’ll talk more about shortly.
Here are the most toxic types of home-grown molds to watch out for, where you’ll find them, and what signs and symptoms you should look for:
Where to find it
Signs and symptoms
Carpeting, walls, basements, attics, and showers, primarily during the spring and summer seasons.
Referred to as the “allergy-causing” mold.
Typically carried into your home and found on shoes, clothing, and carpeting. It’s also found on dead leaves, compost piles, stored grain, and in some foods and spices.
Contaminates the air, harmful for people with compromised immune systems.
Thrives in moist environments, and usually wherever there’s water damage.
Causes watery eyes and difficulty breathing.
Typically found in plant debris and soil, and moist places in your home, where it grows on surfaces.
Can damage the surface and structure of your home, and can cause serious eye infections.
Grows in carpet, wallpaper, old mattresses, and upholstered furniture. It can also be found in damp building materials and items like wood stored in moist places.
Can cause respiratory problems and exacerbate allergy-like symptoms.
Stachybotrys chartarum, or “Black mold”
Thrives in warm, humid, and damp areas of your home, like basements, showers, and crawl spaces.
Can cause flu-like symptoms, headaches, memory loss, diarrhea, headaches, and severe respiratory damage.
How To Detect Mold Growth In Your Home
Now that you know where mold commonly grows and what the symptoms are, here are five ways to determine if it’s growing in your home:
You Can Smell It
If you notice unpleasant or unusual odors in your home, or if the air is musty or stale, mold could be the culprit. Follow the odor to where it’s the most pungent. If you have mold, that’s likely where it’s growing.
You Have Water Damage, Stains, Or Build-up
Homes with excessive moisture problems, like flood damage, overflowing toilets, or a burst pipe, are breeding grounds for mold. If there are areas in your home where water remained for a significant time, you may discover mold spreading there. Common signs include discolored walls or ceilings, cracks or bubbles in your paint or wallpaper, and warped, bulging walls.
Excess Moisture And/Or Condensation
Similar to the point above, if your home has damp areas, they could be susceptible to a mold colony or two. One way to tell if you have excess moisture is to look at your windows or to check if there’s condensation dripping from your pipes. If this is an ongoing problem, buying a quality dehumidifier can help reduce moisture in your home.
You Have Fur Or Patterns On Your Wall
Your walls get marked or stained all the time from everyday living. However, if you can identify patterns in these stains, or if they’re prevalent in the corners of your room, there’s a good chance it’s mold. You should also look out for dark, furry growth, or speckled patterns of brown, green, orange, white, or black.
You’re Having Health Problems
If you’re having health problems that just won’t go away, such as recurring headaches, dizziness, watery eyes, or sneezing, a mold infestation could be why.
How To Prevent Mold Growth
Preventing mold from growing in your home is the cheapest, most effective way to deal with it. Here are a few things you can do today to avoid mold damage:
Sometimes, mold growth is inevitable, like when your home has sudden and accidental water damage. When this happens, here’s what you can do before a mold prevention team steps in:
When you’re shopping around for the best, more affordable home insurance for your needs, don’t forget to account for mold coverage. Even if you take all the right precautions to prevent mold and know how to get rid of it, mold damage may be inevitable. Make sure mold removal is included in your policy, and add mold coverage if it’s not.