Homeowners insurance covers mold damage if a “covered peril” caused it. Otherwise, an insurance company will likely not cover mold damage. There are exceptions, though. we will get into later in this article.
Home insurance policies usually don’t cover mold that resulted from a preventable water leak, flooding or high humidity.
Home insurance companies also typically don’t pay for preventable maintenance issues. Insurers expect homeowners to proactively take care of those problems before they need to file an insurance claim.
Home insurance covers mold if a “covered peril” caused the damage. In that case, your home insurance policy will likely pay for mold removal, repairs and clean-up.
Does home insurance cover mold?
Homeowners insurance will cover mold if a covered peril caused the damage, including:
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from plumbing, heating, air conditioners, sprinkler systems or household appliances
- Frozen pipes
Here are some real-world examples of when home insurance will likely cover mold removal and repair:
- An ice dam forms in a roof gutter during a rough winter. Water backs up under your shingles. The water leaks into your attic, soaks your attic floor and insulation and creates mold.
- A pipe bursts in your home and dumps gallons of water on the floor and saturates drywall. Mold begins to form before you call.
- A washer hose springs a leak and damages behind your washer. The washer hose isn’t old, you stop the leak and report the damage immediately, but not before mold forms.
These are “sudden and accidental” incidents. Insurance companies typically cover this type of damage. In fact, non-weather-related water damage is one of the most common home insurance claims and one of the most expensive.
On the other hand, there are times when home insurance won’t cover you for mold damage. Here are some examples.
- Your basement pipes freeze and burst. You don’t notice it for a few weeks. Now, you have six inches of water on your floor and mold growing.
- Broken shingles on your 40-year-old roof allow water into the attic. Water saturates wood and insulation and leads to mold in the attic.
- Mold forms in your shower. You don’t think much about it until one day you notice that it’s really unsightly and you’re concerned about whether it’s making your family sick.
In these cases, an insurer will likely not cover the damage. An insurance company expects you to take care of your house, including properly ventilating the bathroom, replacing an old roof and checking your basement regularly.
Also, the standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover water damage caused by a flood. If a flood outside of your home causes water damage that leads to mold, your home policy wouldn’t cover the resulting mold issue. Instead, you would need a separate flood insurance policy.
How do I know if my home insurance policy covers mold?
Home insurance companies usually don’t cover mold damage unless it’s directly related to a “covered peril.” The good news — there are exceptions.
Check your homeowners insurance policy to see if there is any language about mold claims. Some insurers offer limited coverage for mold claims. This may mean limiting how much the insurer will pay for a mold-related claim. Or an insurer may increase a home policy’s cost if you have mold-related coverage.
If you don’t have mold coverage, you can buy an insurance policy endorsement that adds mold coverage. An endorsement is when an insurance company includes additional coverage to a regular home insurance policy for a fee.
Some home policies provide a limited amount of coverage for mold claims. This can be done by capping the amount the insurer will pay, such as $5,000, or stating that the insurer will only pay for certain services, such as cleaning up and excluding others, including testing and remediation.
What if my home has had mold problems before?
Insurance companies hate risk. Risky homes, such as old homes with old wiring and plumbing and risky areas, including high-crime neighborhoods or homes near woods that often catch fire, usually have more claims. Insurance companies don’t like paying out many claims.
The same goes for a home with mold or ones with previous mold-related claims. Insurance companies view those homes as risky.
In that case, your insurance company will likely decline a mold endorsement or charge you a lot for that coverage.
That means it might be worth paying for the mold removal yourself.
How do I file a mold damage insurance claim?
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file a mold claim.
If you’re not sure if your policy covers mold damage, check your home insurance policy or call your insurance company.
Mold grows quickly. Take photos and then stop the source of the leak and clean up the water before calling your insurance company. An insurance company expects you to be proactive in fixing problems and avoiding further damage.
Here are the steps to take:
- Stop the leak. You might need to shut off the water to your home if you have a leaky pipe or patch a hole if there’s water coming from your roof.
- Remove the water with a mop or wet vac. If there’s a lot of damage or clean up, call a company specializing in removing water and cleaning up.
- Remove rugs, insulation and any other materials that can collect water and become breeding grounds for mold.
- Open windows and doors and use fans to dry out the area.
- Wash the area thoroughly. Use non-ammonia detergent and water to clean hard, nonporous surfaces, such as metal, glass, wood and plastic. Scrub rough surfaces like concrete. Disinfect with water and bleach. Don’t mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Wear nonporous gloves and eye protection.
- Call your insurance company with detailed information about damages, what happened and what prevention and clean-up you’ve done. Document what’s damaged, how much you paid for them and when you bought them. Take photos.
Don’t throw the materials away until you call your insurance company. Take photos and keep the damaged materials. An insurance adjuster might want to see the damaged materials. Put them in a garage or another place that’s away from your living areas until you meet with an insurance adjuster.
Talk to your insurance company if you’re concerned about possible health risks and need to move out of the house. If you need to move out until the mold is removed, determine how much additional living expenses (ALE) your home insurance will provide.
How to prevent mold
Mold forms and spreads quickly, so it’s important to prevent mold by reducing moisture.
The Centers for Disease for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the following ways to control mold growth:
- Control humidity levels
- Promptly fix leaky roofs, windows and pipes
- Thoroughly clean and remove water after flooding
- Ventilate shower, laundry and cooking areas
Mold needs moisture and a “food source” to grow. Food sources include insulation, drywall, carpeting and mattresses.
Mold is most commonly found in places with high humidity. That can include under leaky pipes and appliance hoses, in attics under a leaking roof, and in basements with drainage issues.
Buying mold insurance
If you want mold insurance and it’s excluded from your homeowners insurance policy, ask your home insurance company if you can add an endorsement to your policy. An insurer bases the cost on your home and area’s risks.
Mold endorsements will cost you more in humid areas and for older homes made with materials more prone to mold. The cost can range between $500 and $1,500 annually.