Homeowners often ask two questions about mold. First, they wonder whether a standard homeowner’s policy covers mold removal cost. Second, they want to know whether separate flood policies reimburse for mold removal work. The short answers to those questions are, in order, “It depends,” and “Usually.” But, there are several caveats you need to know about. Here are the details:
Will my homeowner insurance cover mold?
Common homeowner’s policies only cover mold removal when it occurs as a direct result of a covered peril. The key is that the buildup of mold must be sudden, accidental, and the result of a peril listed in your policy. Typically, covered perils include:
- Fire and lightning
- Falling objects
- Theft, vandalism, or vehicle damage
Overflow water/steam damage done by accidental malfunction of heating systems, AC units, sprinklers, home appliances, or plumbing systems
When home insurance will likely NOT cover you
If you could have prevented the damage, or if it built up over time, your policy probably won’t cover your cleanup expenses. For example, if you fail to take care of your roof, and resulting leaks lead to mold damage, you won’t get insurance reimbursement for the associated expenses. Or if your kitchen, bathroom, or basement has mold problems caused by your lack of routine household maintenance, you won’t be able to rely on insurance coverage to help with your costs of cleaning up the mold.
Is my home covered in case of flood?
Standard home polices do not cover flood damage. However, if you have a separate flood policy in place, it most likely will only reimburse for expenses related to removal of sudden mold buildup after a flooding incident. It’s your responsibility to deal with the mold issue as soon as you have access to your property after the waters recede. Note that most flood policies carry caps on mold-related reimbursement. Read your policies. Know what’s covered. When in doubt, call your agent and get clarification.
Buying mold insurance
You can purchase additional coverage, within your existing home policy, that places a dollar-amount cap on mold removal cost. Depending whether you live in an area that is susceptible to mold or not, you could face a large add-on to your homeowner’s premium for mold removal services that are not capped.
Questions that clarify the mold issue
In the vast majority of cases, you can ask yourself three questions to settle the issue about whether your insurance covers mold removal services:
Did the mold damage take place suddenly? If the mold appeared over time and not suddenly, insurance won’t cover its removal.
Is the damage accidental? Is the mold damage accidental or could it have been prevented? If you could have prevented it, then homeowner’s insurance won’t cover the related cleanup expenses.
Do I have a flood policy? If you have a flood policy separate from your standard home insurance, it will usually only cover removal of mold that unavoidably occurred as a direct result of the flooding. Again, if you had access to your home after the flood and did nothing to prevent mold buildup, even your flood policy’s mold provisions won’t help you.
The key thing to remember is to read the fine print of your homeowner’s policy and speak with your insurance agent to clarify any questions you have.
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