24 Aug Does Home Owners Insurance Cover Mold Damage?
Mold can be found in any home.
Both yes and no is the simple answer! Depending on the source of the mold and the policy, your homeowner’s insurance might cover the costs of mold damage to your home.
First, let’s look at some basic information about homeowner’s insurance. Then, consider the reasons your policy may not cover mold damage and what you can do in order to avoid it from happening.
Basics of Homeowner’s Insurance
You might think that homeowner insurance is intended to cover your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire.
While this is true to some extent, lenders often require basic homeowner’s insurance to protect their investment in your house, and not your wallet.
The homeowner’s policy covers repairs due to fire, lightning strikes and the weight of snow or ice on the roof. It also reimburses for water overflow from pipes or appliances.
This damages can affect whether the bank could resell your home if you need to foreclose. It is covered by most basic insurance policies.
Like any other type of insurance policy homeowner’s insurance can include add-ons to provide additional coverage.
An add-on might be needed to protect personal items such as expensive jewelry and artwork.
Additional add-ons may cover vandalism, earthquakes or flooding. These add-ons may be requested by homeowners or lenders if the property is located in floodplains or an area that is prone to crime or natural disasters.
What Mold Damage is Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?
You might now be familiar with the basics of homeowner’s coverage. However, it is important to know when mold damage is covered.
In the following situations, your homeowner’s policy will likely reimburse you for costs incurred to clean up mold.
- Cracks and holes can form when heavy snow falls on the roof. The home then becomes moistened and mold forms.
- When a pipe bursts, water is absorbed into drywall and other materials. Mold can still form behind walls of your home, even if the pipe is repaired or replaced immediately.
- The washing machine’s hose breaks, flooding the laundry room. The appliance is serviced immediately, but water from the washing machine soaks into the drywall in the laundry room and eventually mold forms.
These are what’s known as “sudden, accidental” occurrences. This is crucial to know as mold cleanup and restoration are not usually covered by homeowners if they’re negligent.
Here are a few examples of situations where homeowners may not be eligible for reimbursement for mold cleanup due to their own negligence.
- The roof of the home is far beyond its expected lifespan and has missing or damaged shingles that cannot be repaired quickly and properly.
- Water can seep through the bathroom walls if there are broken tiles or missing grout. If the ventilation fan fails, you may neglect to fix it or have it replaced.
- With obvious water leaks, plumbing pipes are also far behind their lifespan.
- You neglect to clean your basement properly after a burst pipe or broken heater.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover mold damage if the homeowner fails to maintain their home as per an insurance carrier.
This maintenance involves replacing or repairing roofs, replacing damaged bathroom tiles, and replacing or repairing pipes.
A homeowner is expected to immediately address any water leaks and flood areas within their home by an insurance company.
The homeowner is not usually obligated by insurance to pay for cleanup and restoration costs if mold damage occurs as a result of negligence.
You should also be aware that insurance policies may be voided if you make poor repairs that allow water to seep behind walls or get absorbed by floors.
It is essential that homeowners leave home repairs to professionals, and not try to repair hot water heaters, replace pipes or make other maintenance tasks.
How to maintain your home to prevent mold
Since reimbursement for mold cleanup may depend on whether or not a homeowner actually maintains their home, note some tips on how to keep your home in good repair and prevent mold from forming in the first place.
Annually inspect your roof and repair any damage. Roof coatings can be applied quickly to plug leaks and other problems. It is also an economical way to prevent water from seeping into your home through the roof.
- Make sure you inspect your gutters and get larger gutters installed if necessary to prevent flooding and water from accumulating along the roof edge.
- If you notice that a bathroom tile is brittle or pulling away, replace it.
- To prevent humidity and steam from absorbing into the building materials, ensure that your home has sufficient ventilation in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Install a sump pump if your basement floods often or the area seems damp all the time. Also, have your foundation checked for cracks.
It is important to inspect your home’s plumbing for leaks and have it professionally cleaned whenever possible.
Dry cleaning is a better option than standard shampooing when your carpeting requires heavy-duty cleaning. This will prevent mold from forming on the carpet padding or subfloor.
Avoiding mold after water damage in your home
Even the most well-maintained homes can be damaged or have accidents that lead to mold growth. These are some important tips to reduce the likelihood of mold growth.
- You should immediately shut off the water supply to your home if you see a leaky pipe. Wait for a plumber to arrive.
- Instead of using a regular household mop, use a heavy-duty, wet-dry vacuum. This will help you get rid of as much water from your flooring tiles as possible, as well as from the subfloor.
- You shouldn’t just patch up water stains on ceilings, but also replace damaged ceiling tiles or drywall with newer material.
- You should dry the undersides of area rugs that have been wet before you put them out again.
- For larger spillages, you can use a hair dryer for smaller spillages or a high-power dryer for more serious spillages. To ensure that both carpet and padding are dry, the dryer should be turned on for at least an hour.
Also, you don’t want anything that could have caused the flooding to be thrown away. These may be required to prove to your insurer that you are not responsible for flooding and the subsequent mold.
You might also want to take photos of the affected area and any other factors that may have contributed to the flooding, such as a broken hot water heater or damaged roof.
You should also call your insurance company as soon as you notice any water damage or flood. This will let them know that you are doing everything possible to prevent mold growth.
Mold Inspections and New Homes
A common misconception is that a new inspection will reveal if there are any mold issues in the home you are considering buying. A home inspector will inspect areas of the house that must be built according to local building codes. This could affect the homes structural stability. These areas include wiring, plumbing, foundation, roof, or any other related items.
Standard home inspections do not usually include a mold inspection. You might want to arrange for a separate inspection. This is particularly important if you:
- The floodplain is where the home is located.
- It is known that the area where the home is situated was subject to flooding in the past.
- This home is very old
- The attic feels too humid or damp in the basement.
- The home is located in the tropics, or an area with high humidity.
A new inspection may reveal that there are cracks or old pipes in the foundation. This could lead to mold growth. You may not want to wait to make all repairs to a house before you purchase it. However, it is worth considering if you can fix the foundation or pipes first to reduce the chance of mold growth.
Do you want to get rid of mold yourself or hire a professional?
You may feel tempted to do the cleanup yourself if your insurance does not cover mold damage. This is a mistake as mold spores can become airborne and settle on other areas of your home if you don’t follow proper cleaning procedures.
Although it is recommended to call a mold remediation company, you can still tackle the job yourself. Eye protection is important, as well as a breathing apparatus.
To absorb mold-covered areas, soak a sponge in bleach solution. Spray the bleach solution on the mold-covered area to dampen it and prevent spores from becoming airborne. Blot the area after the mold has dried.
There are also cleaning solutions meant for mold in particular, which you can find at most home improvement or hardware stores.
It might be a good idea to remove any moldy drywall from your home and replace it with newer materials.
Before you begin to remove any roof rafters or wall studs, make sure that the framework is braced. To ensure that mold is removed completely, you might also want to cut a large piece of wood or drywall around it.
Do not use your household vacuum to clean mold. This can spread the mold spores around your home. Also, you should throw away any sponges, paper towels or other mold-removing materials.
For all your cleaning supplies and any building materials that you are removing, use thick trash bags you can seal completely.
It is also worth checking with your local government about the requirements for disposing moldy materials. You may not be allowed to just throw them out with your regular trash.
Moldy building materials can be hazardous waste in some areas. They may need to go to a landfill or local dump. You may need the help of professionals to handle this disposal.