Does homeowners insurance cover mold?

Most causes of mold are not covered by homeowners insurance. But if the underlying cause of mold growth is sudden and accidental water damage, your insurance company may pay for its removal.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

By

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

&Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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Mold damage is typically not covered by homeowners insurance because it’s usually seen as a maintenance issue, or something that could be avoided with proper upkeep. However, home insurance may cover mold removal if the mold infestation was caused by a covered peril.

For example, mold that forms because of sudden and accidental water damage — like a burst pipe — is generally covered by homeowners insurance since it was directly caused by a covered loss. But mold that forms over time due to maintenance issues, high humidity, leaky plumbing, or flooding would not be covered. If you live in a high-humidity state like Florida or South Carolina, insurers may offer mold coverage as a policy add-on or endorsement.

Key takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance typically excludes coverage for mold removal if the infestation was considered preventable.

  • Mold resulting from leaky plumbing, poor ventilation, high humidity, or flooding likely won’t be covered by your policy.

  • If the cause of mold growth is a covered peril in your policy, like a burst pipe or malfunctioning appliance, your insurance company may pay for its removal and any repairs.

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When does homeowners insurance cover mold?

Most causes of pervasive mold growth in homes is due to excessive moisture from water leaks and high humidity. These forms of water damage are not covered by homeowners insurance, as home insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues or damage that occurs over time, like gradual water leaks. But there are instances where water damage and the resulting mold contamination may be covered by homeowners insurance

A standard homeowners insurance policy lists mold, fungus, and wet rot as exclusions, unless under the following conditions

  • The mold is hidden within the walls, ceiling, or beneath the floors  

  • The mold growth results from the accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam — like a burst pipe or water heater 

Mold can begin to form anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after an incidence of water damage, so if you’ve recently had a pipe burst or appliance malfunction, make sure the affected areas are completely dry.

Examples of when homeowners insurance covers mold

Here are a few real-world examples of when you might be able to file a claim for repairs and mold removal with your home insurance company.

1. Water heater ruptures 

A burst water heater can cause a considerable amount of damage — like 60 gallons of water worth of water damage. If it bursts and mold forms on your surrounding walls, its removal and replacement walls may be covered.

2. Burst washing machine hose  

If your washing machine had no prior mechanical problems and was assembled properly, but still managed to leak or malfunction and cause mold buildup behind or under the appliance, your insurer may cover mold remediation.

3. A firefighter or fire sprinkler causes water damage 

If mold builds up from the water that was used to extinguish a fire — whether from a firefighter or fire sprinkler — removal of any ensuing mold growth may be covered.

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What is the claim payout for mold damage?

Most insurance companies cap claim payouts for mold removal and repair at$10,000, but you can typically purchase additional mold coverage that increases your payout limits to as much as $50,000. This add-on may also broaden your coverage to causes of mold growth that aren’t covered by a standard home insurance policy.

Some states require insurers to offer a certain amount of mold coverage.

As of May 2022, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina are required to cover between $5,000 and $50,000 in mold remediation coverage, regardless of what caused it.

When does homeowners insurance not cover mold?

Most insurers consider mold to be a home maintenance issue, which isn’t covered by homeowners insurance since it’s viewed as preventable damage. 

Mold formation is relatively gradual and — in its worst form — takes several months of accumulation before you realize it's caused irrevocable damage to your drywall and flooring. At that point, it may be difficult for you or your insurer to correctly identify the exact cause of the mold and they may chalk it up to neglect or preexisting mold growth.

Mold is also extremely costly to remove — with removal costs as high as $30,000 depending on the cause, extent, and location of the buildup — and many insurance companies want no part in covering something as preventable and costly as mold. [1]

Examples of when homeowners insurance doesn’t cover mold

Most of the time, mold removal isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. Here are a few causes of mold growth that are typically not covered by a standard home insurance policy.

1. Leaky plumbing 

If the pipe beneath your sink has been leaking for years and causing extensive mold buildup beneath the floors and within the walls, your insurer likely wouldn’t cover the damage.

2. Humidity 

If the mold infestation in your home is caused by high humidity, that also would not be covered.

3. Flooding 

If your home incurs water damage caused by flooding and mold begins to grow, its removal would not be covered, as flooding is never covered by homeowners insurance. You’d need a separate flood insurance policy to cover this damage.

4. Sump pump backups 

If your basement sump pump overflows and causes water damage, any resulting mold or mildew would not be covered by your policy.

How to file a claim for mold damage

In many cases, homeowners insurance claims related to mold are part of a larger water damage claim. For example, maybe a pipe burst, flooded your bathroom, and months later you discover mold growth in your walls.

In the event you discover mold months after the initial incident, reach out to your insurance company to see if you’re still able to file a claim for the damage. Most insurers require you to report mold damage no later than six months from the date of the covered event that caused the mold.

Here are a few steps you should take to ensure that you’ll get reimbursed for mold-related loss.

  1. Contact your insurance company right away to report the water damage incident or mold growth.

  2. Document the damage with photos and videos.

  3. Ventilate the affected area as much as possible to prevent further mold growth.

  4. Closely follow your insurance company’s instructions for filing a claim.

  5. Contact local mold removal companies to get cleanup and repair estimates.

  6. Provide your insurance company with repair estimates and receive a payout.

What to do if your mold claim is denied

If your mold claim is denied, you may want to consider hiring a professional contractor to take a look. If they’re able to pinpoint that the cause of the mold should have been covered by your homeowners insurance policy, you’ll be able to take this second opinion to your insurance company to try and appeal the claim denial. Just keep in mind you’ll have to foot the bill for hiring this professional yourself.

How to prevent mold growth in your home

Mold is expensive, and filing claims related to mold growth can cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket. The best way to prevent infestations is to provide your home with regular upkeep. Follow these tips to keep mold out of your house.

Control humidity levels

Relative humidity levels higher than 60% are ripe conditions for mold growth, so you’re going to want to keep your levels between 30% and 60%. If your home has a propensity for reaching peak levels, invest in a dehumidifier.

Proper ventilation

You’ll want to be sure your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room all have proper ventilation. These three areas of your home are hotbeds for fungi, and ensuring all are equipped with proper fans and ventilation is a good way to keep mold out.

Dry and fix leaks

If you notice water from outside is leaking in through your roof and windows, or the pipes beneath your bathroom sink produce a steady drip every time you run the faucet, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind:

  • There’s more where that came from. Inspect areas around the leak and if necessary, dry, ventilate, and clean affected areas using detergent and water.

  • Bring in reinforcements. Fix the source of the leak either on your own or by contacting a contractor or plumber.

Maintain your roof

Inspect your roof every few months to make sure there aren’t any easy access points for water. While you’re up there, check your gutters and clear them of any buildup of leaves or debris that aren’t allowing for proper drainage of rainwater.

Limit carpeting

Carpeting — especially carpeting in your basement, bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room — is prime territory for mold. Wall-to-wall carpeting in particular should be avoided, as any moisture that develops in the drywall or baseboards could find its way underneath. If you decide to carpet your home, be mindful of its placement, especially in areas prone to water damage.

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Frequently asked questions

Does homeowners insurance cover black mold?

It doesn't matter what type of mold it is — black mold, regular mold, or just mildew — mold removal or remediation services are typically only covered by homeowners insurance if the mold growth is the result of a covered peril. You may be able to modify your home insurance to cover additional causes of mold growth by adding mold coverage to your policy.

How much does it cost to remove mold from a house?

It’ll depend on the extent of the damage and buildup of the mold, but mold removal may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, with severe cases costing up to $30,000. If you catch the mold early, you may be able to remove it yourself with cleaning products like bleach.

References

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  1. Home Advisor

    . "

    How Much Does Professional Mold Removal Cost?

    ." Accessed May 20, 2022.

Authors

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

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Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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