Mold can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare.
It often goes undetected thanks to its propensity for growing in low-traffic areas of the home (like the basement or attic), but when it’s visible, it can be unsightly.
Aesthetics are far from the biggest complaint, though. In many cases, mold growth is harmful to the health of your family, contributing to respiratory problems that can lead to severe complications.
Treating mold can be quite a production. You may suspect that you have a mold problem if you smell it or feel symptoms. Most people describe mold as smelling “musty”—the same odor that you’d associate with an old house. Physical symptoms caused by a mold infestation can include:
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy eyes and skin
Because the symptoms of mold exposure can mimic issues like hay fever or the common cold, an accurate diagnosis is critical. For some individuals, exposure to mold spores or the more dangerous black mold can be deadly.
I think my home has mold. Now what?
In most cases, your insurance company will do the heavy lifting to hire and deploy a team of mold specialists to your home.
The team often works with an insurance claims adjuster to ensure an accurate understanding of the cause of the mold and the best way to treat it. This is where insurance coverage comes in. If you’re wondering if your homeowners insurance covers mold damage, the answer is complicated (as usual).
Does my home insurance policy cover mold damage?
The short answer is that mold damage is covered if it occurred as the result of some other incident included in your policy.
For example, if your mold growth is caused by water that the fire department used to extinguish a house fire, it will likely be covered. In this case, it falls under the “fire” umbrella. Other common scenarios include a burst pipe leaking water and leading to mold growth, or even faulty air conditioners.
Keep in mind that flood insurance is a separate product. Your standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t typically cover water damage (and the ensuing mold growth) caused by a flood. Your separate flood insurance policy will cover the damage caused by floodwater.
On the other hand, if your mold problem is the result of negligent home maintenance, don’t count on getting any insurance payout. If you had a leaky pipe in the basement and chose to ignore it, your policy won’t pay for the mold removal process.
Like most types of insurance, homeowners insurance is best for covering accidental damage. If you’re slacking off on maintaining your home, be aware that you might feel the financial repercussions sooner than later.
Is mold all the way covered in my home insurance policy?
Check your insurance documents thoroughly. Mold treatment can be incredibly costly, and insurance companies often cap their coverage at around $10,000 or so. While this can take a nice “bite” out of the amount you’ll pay out of pocket, it won’t necessarily mean that the service will come at no cost to you.
Depending on the limits of your policy, you may opt to purchase additional coverage to ensure you’re fully protected. But certain factors, such as where you live, can make even this additional mold coverage reasonably costly.
How can I avoid mold in the first place?
The good news is that mold issues are often entirely preventable. If you live in a humid climate, like Florida, Georgia, or another southeastern state, you may already have preventative measures in place. Ultimately, prevention comes down to keeping indoor humidity levels in check. Our suggestions include:
- Run a dehumidifier in the parts of your home that aren’t climate-controlled, like your attic, basement, or garage. This is especially helpful in the summer.
- Stay on top of your home maintenance. Don’t wait to repair a faulty water heater, drafty window, or leaky dishwasher. Jumping on repairs as soon as you notice a maintenance issue will almost certainly save you lots of money in the long run.
- Ensure your kitchen and bathrooms have proper, functioning ventilation systems. In the kitchen, clean the vent cover over your range frequently, as it can become clogged with grease and lose some of its effectiveness. In bathrooms, run the exhaust fans during and after bathing to clear out steam as quickly as possible.
- When safe, use bleach to clean bathroom and kitchen fixtures. Bleach kills mold spores and can stop growth well before it starts. Be sure to follow the instructions for diluting it properly—never use bleach at full strength.
- Get to know your home. Although you may not use your attic or crawlspace, it’s a good idea to check these areas out once in a while to spot mold growth before it becomes out of control.
- Many appliances have hoses that move steam away from their home. Be sure your dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are in good working order and free from tears, punctures, or other types of damage.
When it comes to mold damage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take simple steps to deter mold growth now, and reduce the headache of dealing with insurance later.
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