Does home insurance cover mold?
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
Water damage is a common risk many homeowners face. The source of water damage can be anything from burst pipes to natural disasters or even neglect from the owner.
When water damage in the home is not addressed quickly, it can lead to mold growth—a costly problem that can be hard to fix.
Mold tends to grow in places with moisture. It can be inside or outside a home, and when a patch of mold takes hold in a house, it can cause serious health issues. If left untreated, mold can cause respiratory illness, and people with asthma or other underlying health conditions are at a higher risk for mold-related illnesses.
Mold growth is usually a gradual process, and it can be difficult to figure out where it came from and how it happened, but the origin of the mold will largely determine if the home insurance policy will cover it or not.
Cost of mold damage
The cost of mold damage will depend on where the home is located, what insurance the homeowner has and the extent of the mold.
Average mold remediation costs are roughly $15 to $30 per square foot, which adds up fast. If the mold damage is widespread, getting rid of the mold could cost homeowners thousands of dollars.
Some homeowners insurance policies will cover some instances of mold damage, and knowing which instances are covered will make all the difference.
When does homeowners insurance cover mold damage?
Mold can be damaging to houses, and fixing the problem is no easy matter. Home insurance companies are well aware of this fact, and many of them refuse to include mold coverage in their policies.
However, some insurers will cover mold damage in certain situations.
There is only a narrow set of circumstances where the homeowners insurance will pick up the tab for mold. Usually, the mold must be caused by a sudden home system malfunction or a natural disaster. In both cases, the cause will need to be something that is already covered in the policy.
Even if an insurer agrees to cover mold damage, it will only do so to the coverage limit stated in the policy. Fixing mold damage isn’t cheap, and there’s a good chance the costs will exceed the policy’s limit.
Here are a few common examples of mold damage that could be covered by a home insurance policy:
- Water heater burst: When a water heater bursts, it can send water across the home to hard-to-reach places. Even diligent homeowners can miss cleaning up the water in spots, and mold can form.
- Washing machine hose burst: If a washing machine with no pre-existing issues bursts a hose or even begins to leak and mold forms, it might be covered. Insurers will probably want to make sure the machine was assembled properly in the first place.
- Home fire aftermath: When a home fire requires a visit from the fire department and water hoses are used to put it out, mold could form later. If fire is covered in the home policy, the subsequent mold could be covered too.
- Dishwasher malfunction: When dishwashers malfunction, they can flood the kitchen and other rooms. If mold spreads due to the dishwasher and home appliance emergencies are covered in the policy, the insurer may pick up the tab for the mold.
- Hurricane or heavy rain: Although floods are almost always excluded from home insurance, some policies provide coverage for other natural disasters like hurricanes or heavy wind and rain. These policies may also cover further damage to the home resulting from the covered natural disaster.
When doesn’t homeowners insurance cover mold damage?
Many home insurance companies exclude mold damage from their policies due to the cost and hassle of dealing with the issue, not to mention the difficulty of determining the original cause of the mold.
There is a list of instances where the home insurance policies will not cover mold damage:
- Neglect: The most common source of mold is lack of maintenance. If the homeowner fails to keep up with adequate repairs around the house and mold results from the lack of repairs, homeowners insurance will not cover the damage.
- Flooding: Flooding is a peril that is commonly excluded from home insurance policies, so mold damage caused by flooding will also be excluded.
- Other causes: Unfortunately, mold is a naturally occurring phenomenon, especially in southern states. If the mold forms in the home naturally, then it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to take care of the issue. Anything that causes mold besides a peril that’s included in a home insurance policy will not be covered.
Mold damage riders
Although home insurers generally exclude mold from the covered perils in a policy, some companies will offer add-on coverage for mold damage, known as riders or endorsements.
If a home insurance provider offers a mold damage rider, the coverage will probably spell out how much the policy will pay and under what circumstance.
Mold damage riders can be helpful to homeowners who live in humid areas where mold is common, although the coverage will be more expensive in these places.
How to avoid having your mold damage claim denied
The best way to file a successful claim against mold damage is to show the insurance company that due diligence was performed to guard the home against mold. The same advice holds true for water damage insurance claims.
If the home is in disrepair, then insurers will probably attribute the mold damage to owner negligence and deny the claim.
To keep this from happening, homeowners can install dehumidifiers in damp, dark places, keep gutters and roofs clean and maintain home appliances with routine maintenance.
Keeping the home in good shape will show home insurance companies that due diligence has been performed, which will significantly decrease the chances of the claim being denied.
What to do if your claim is denied
If an insurance company denies a claim, many homeowners can feel defeated. There are a few paths forward that could reverse the insurer’s decision.
Some insurance companies have an appeals process that homeowners can go through to get claims re-evaluated.
If the insurer is unwilling or unable to re-evaluate the claim, the state’s insurance commissioner might be willing to look at the claim and offer assistance.
How to limit mold damage
The best defense is always a good offense, and taking steps to limit mold damage before it happens is recommended for all homeowners, and especially for those in humid climates.
Here a few steps to help homeowners limit mold damage:
- Ensure proper ventilation: Keeping good airflow in the home is a great way to prevent mold. Even simple things like opening windows can keep mold at bay.
- Dry wet areas: When an accident like a burst water pipe occurs, dry the area quickly and thoroughly. A fast response will help the affected area stay mold free.
- Monitor humidity inside: Mold thrives in humid climates, so homeowners located in these regions should take precautions. Tools to measure humidity are usually inexpensive and can be purchased at the local hardware store.
- Check house plants: Indoor plants are a common place for mold to grow, so checking plants can provide an early warning sign for impending mold problems.
- Home insurance providers usually exclude mold damage from policies.
- Some instances that cause mold like natural disasters or appliance malfunctions may be covered.
- If mold damage is covered in a policy, there will likely be a strict coverage limit.
- Some providers offer mold damage riders for an additional price.
Mold is a costly issue for homeowners, and it’s one that is only covered by home insurance in specific instances. If mold damage is included in the policy, it’s because the mold came from a peril that’s covered by the insurance.
Some insurers offer endorsements for mold damage, but these add-on coverages can be costly. The best way to protect against mold is to prevent it from happening with good home practices.