If your home has been damaged by water, under certain circumstances you may be able to be reimbursed by your homeowners insurance for the cost mold remediation and home repairs. Not all situations that result in mold growth qualify, however, so it’s important to understand the differences and to be able to anticipate whether your insurance is likely to cover the water damage in your home.
Homeowners insurance policies can vary by insurance agency, level of coverage selected, and even the part of the country in which you live. It’s important to read your policy and/or speak to your insurance agent to understand what your coverage is likely to include.
Generally speaking, your homeowners insurance will pay for repairs due to “a covered peril.” Covered perils are typically sudden accidents or incidents that are unforeseeable and not due to a failure of regular home maintenance. Covered perils that could result in mold damage may include:
Your policy may include all of the above examples, or only a few. Often homeowners insurance policies have limitations on how much they will cover- as little as $1,000 in repairs or as much as $10,000. Damage that exceeds the limit would be your responsibility to pay. That’s why it’s so important to read and understand your policy.
Most homeowners insurance won’t cover mold remediation that results from damage due to improper or inadequate home maintenance.
For instance, a leaky pipe that leaks for weeks or months is different than a pipe that bursts suddenly during a cold spell. Your insurance carrier will expect you to notice and repair the leaky pipe before mold becomes a major, expensive problem. Even when you do a have a burst pipe, it’s important to address it quickly because if you fail to clean up the moisture and mold begins to grow some time later, your insurance may decide to not cover the damage.
Another example of mold damage that wouldn’t typically be covered by your homeowners insurance is mold growing in your attic due to moisture seeping through an aged roof. Roof shingles offer less and less protection over time, and if you fail to repair or replace your roof when it’s needed, your insurance company may deny your claim.
Similarly, mold growing in your bathroom due to shower humidity and moisture is probably not going to be covered by your insurance. Insurance companies expect you to keep your bathroom clean and keep moisture levels low with a bathroom exhaust fan or dehumidifier.
Floods can cause serious, widespread damage in a short period of time and the expense of resulting repairs can be astronomical. If you have a standard homeowners policy, mold growth due to natural flooding is probably not covered by your insurance.
Flood insurance is available for an additional cost. If your home is located in a known flood plain, you probably already have flood insurance because the risk of flooding is so high. Most homes located in flood plains are required to do so. This means you pay extra for coverage in case a storm, hurricane, snow melt, or other act of nature causes rising water levels to flood your home.
If you aren’t required by law to carry flood insurance, but are concerned about your risk of flooding, you can request to add flood insurance. The cost of insurance would be far less than the expensive repairs and mold remediation you would have to pay for if your home suffered a flood. Make sure your flood insurance includes mold remediation coverage.
If you discover that your homeowners insurance policy covers little to no mold damage, you may want to add mold coverage for an additional fee. This is called buying an endorsement. Even when your policy covers repairs due to water damage, it may be very limited on mold coverage, and extensive mold remediation can cost thousands of dollars. A mold coverage endorsement could save you a lot of money in the long term.
Whenever you’re facing home water damage, first stop the source of the water and clean and dry the area as much as possible. Mold can grow quickly so removing the moisture is critical to slow or stop the spread of mold.
Once you’ve stopped the water, take photos to have proof of the accident and demonstrate the extent of the damage. Photos can also help you track the growth of mold. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. You can share the photos with your agent, and the company will likely send someone to survey the damage. Don’t conduct any widespread repairs or throw things away until the insurance adjuster has visited.
In addition to calling your homeowners insurance company, call 877-960-0491 to get immediate, 24-hour assistance in dealing with water damage in your home. You’ll be connected to a local professional who can help with repair work, drying out any water damage, and any necessary mold remediation.