Renters insurance will reimburse you if your belongings are destroyed in a covered peril. Such perils include everything from weather to malicious human activity to elemental causes like fire and ice. But unless your policy is an all-risk policy, not every kind of peril imaginable is covered, and your policy will explicitly exclude those perils in a separate section.
While certain types of water damage are covered, mold is usually not covered by renters insurance. If your renters insurance excludes mold damage, and you need coverage for it, you’ll need to buy additional coverage for your policy, which is called an endorsement. Even when you have a mold endorsement, your coverage may only be limited to a certain amount, usually $5,000.
Water damage and mold
Mold is caused by excess water or moisture containing small spores and bacteria. Many types of water damage are covered by your renters insurance, such as water forced in through the roof and walls by windstorms or hail, the weight of frozen water, and the accidental discharge or overflow of water from an appliance or pipe inside your home.
Mold caused by any of these perils, whether covered or not, may be excluded from coverage under the basic terms of your renters insurance policy. That means if the damage or loss to your belongings was caused by mold, but not by the covered water damage itself, your claim will be denied.
When mold damage is referred to in a renters insurance policy, the terms usually also include damage caused by fungus, wet rot, dry rot, and bacteria. The terms may be tucked away under the coverage for “accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam,” a common named peril that also frequently excludes mold damage.
However, every policy is different, and some may include coverage for mold caused by water damage. Since mold is not typically a covered peril, your policy will cover it if it’s not explicitly excluded. If you’re concerned about mold damage, talk to a licensed representative at Policygenius to explore renters insurance options until you find a policy that fits your coverage needs.
Damage resulting from negligence is sometimes excluded from coverage. If you knew mold was developing somewhere and you let it happen, any resulting damage or loss is not covered by your renters insurance if the policy excludes damage caused by negligence.
An exception to the mold damage exclusion
When damage caused by mold, fungus, rot, or bacteria is excluded in your renters insurance policy, there is usually a caveat for such damage when it’s not within your ability to fix. Typically, that means mold within the walls of your home, beneath the floors, or within and above the ceiling. Mold resulting from water discharge, which would otherwise be excluded, may be covered if it’s hidden from view.
It is your landlord’s responsibility to deal with mold in the structure of the building. (If you owned your home, your homeowners insurance would have its own rules for mold within the structure of the building.) When mold within the within the walls, ceiling, or floors of your home causes damage to your stuff, you may have to file a claim with your landlord’s insurance and receive reimbursement through his or her coverage.
Mold caused by other named perils
Because mold is typically excluded when it results from another covered peril, usually the accidental water and steam discharge peril, it may be covered when it results from a peril from which it’s not excluded.
For example, if a vandal breaks into your home and trashes it, spilling a full vase across your rug, you may be covered for mold that develops on the rug. Vandalism and other forms malicious activity, like theft, are covered perils and don’t typically contain an exclusion for mold caused by the vandalism.
Endorsement for mold coverage
If mold damage is excluded from your policy, including any damage caused by other types of bacteria or fungus growth, you may have to get an endorsement that adds coverage for it. An endorsement, also known as a rider, is additional coverage that either enhances the coverage contained in the base policy terms by adding more covered perils or increasing the limits of liability – the amount the insurer has to pay you for a given claim – for existing covered perils.
One of the most common endorsements is for floods, since floods are almost always excluded from renters insurance coverage. Earthquake endorsements are also common, and necessary if you live near a fault line.
The mold damage endorsement removes the exclusion for mold and other spore- and bacteria-based damage from the covered peril for water discharge by adding coverage for such damage up to a certain limit of liability. While it may vary from insurer to insurer, a typical limit of liability for mold damage is $5,000.