Ask Hippo: Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

 

Mold and fungi can cause serious damage to our homes, possessions and health. Sometimes homeowners insurance covers mold. But that’s not always the case. Coverage depends on your policy and what caused the mold to appear. To fully understand whether mold is covered under your homeowners policy, you’ll have to read the fine print. We turned to our director of underwriting, Mike Gulla, to learn more.

When does homeowners insurance cover mold?

Standard homeowners policies cover mold damage under certain circumstances. If the mold in your home is a result of a covered peril — like water damage — its removal and remediation will likely be covered by your insurance provider. So if there’s mold in your home because your pipes suddenly burst, there’s a good chance that your carrier will help cover the cost of damages.

Mold is also typically covered if it grows after a firefighter uses water to put out a house fire. Some insurance providers, like Hippo, offer water backup and service line coverage. So mold that occurs as a result of sewage issues would be covered.

The maximum amount an insurer pays out for mold-related claims could range from $1,000 to $10,000. While mold may be covered by homeowners policies in certain situations, coverage for damage caused by fungi is usually limited.

When isn’t mold covered?

If you own a home, your insurance provider will expect you to protect it. That’s why mold caused by preventable or long-ignored water leaks, humidity, poor ventilation or neglect is usually excluded from most homeowners policies. Since flood damage usually isn’t covered by homeowners insurance, neither is mold that develops after a flood (unless you purchase a federal flood insurance policy). Essentially, if mold growth can’t be traced to a covered peril, your insurance provider won’t help you cover the cost of damages.

How to file a mold insurance claim

If you find mold in your home, you’ll want to act quickly. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Take pictures and do what you can to stop the problem before it gets worse. Open windows and install a fan or dehumidifier to dry out the space where mold has appeared.

Your provider will expect you to take an active role in preventing further mold-related damage. An adjuster or insurance representative will stop by and assess whether the mold growth is covered by your policy. That’s why you don’t want to clean up the mold right away. Just do what you can to prevent it from spreading.

Keep in mind that you may have to prove that mold developed as a result of a covered peril, rather than neglect or lack of maintenance. It’s best to gather any photos or other proof you have that an incident caused mold to appear. This will support your claim and increase your chances of receiving a payout. It should also eliminate the need to pay two separate deductibles, since all damage can be traced to one incident.

How to prevent mold growth

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can be found almost everywhere on earth. It grows indoors and outdoors all year round. Mold thrives in warm, humid places. Unfortunately, that means that you could find mold in several parts of your home, like your basement, kitchen and bathroom.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a strong offense is your best defense when it comes to mold. In order to avoid costly damages, you should do everything you can to prevent mold from growing in your home. If you’re not sure what to do, below are some steps you can take to protect your home from mold.

  • Use air conditioners or dehumidifiers to keep your home’s humidity level between 30% and 60%.
  • Keep fans running throughout your home to ensure that there’s adequate ventilation.
  • Clean bathrooms with bleach and other mold-killing products.
  • Inspect hoses and pipes every few months to prevent leaks.
  • Keep gutters clean to prevent clogs that can cause water to seep into your home.
  • Insulate windows, walls and entrances to reduce condensation.
  • Add mold inhibitors to walls and ceiling paints.
  • Avoid installing carpets in damp areas.
  • Drain water away from your home’s foundation.
  • Turn off your main water valve when traveling.
  • Fix plumbing problems as soon as possible.
  • Remove standing water and damaged items following a flood or another form of water damage.

In addition to taking our tips into consideration, be on the lookout for signs of mold growth, musty smells, watermarks and fuzzy surfaces. Routinely check sources of moisture, like pipes and appliances. Watch your utility bills for unusually high charges, which could indicate that there are leaks. Mold could even be hiding behind your walls, within crawl spaces or under carpets. It’s important to act fast to minimize damages. As mold spreads, getting rid of it usually becomes more expensive.

The last word

While your standard homeowners insurance policy may not cover mold-related damages, you can always purchase additional coverage or an endorsement. Just keep in mind that in humid states like Florida, an endorsement fee can cost as much as $1,500 a year.

Learning as much as you can about mold and how it develops is another way to prevent it from spreading. Know where mold is likely to grow and do what you can to keep it out of your home. You should also become familiar with your specific insurance policy so that you know what it does (and doesn’t) cover when it comes to mold. Even if you had mold coverage when you initially purchased your policy, you should check it every year. In some cases, insurance carriers are beginning to trim their mold endorsements.

Still have questions about homeowners insurance and mold damage? Contact a Hippo specialist. We’re here to help!

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