We’ve all been there. You forgot about the Chinese leftovers for a few weeks, only to open the container to find slimy green rice and fuzzy sweet-and-sour chicken. Mold is certainly gross, but it can cause much bigger problems for homeowners than a ruined dinner.
Not only can mold cause structural issues with your home, but living in a house with mold can also cause a host of negative health impacts — particularly for folks who are allergic to it.
It’s best to prevent mold from taking hold in the first place, but it’s also worth looking into insurance protections should an unseen problem begin to create major headaches — both literally and figuratively.
Here you’re going to learn all about how to prevent and protect yourself from mold, rot, and fungus. You’ll also get an idea if mold insurance is right for you. But before we get into the details, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat.
Is Mold Covered By My Homeowners Insurance?
Unfortunately, mold is not usually covered by traditional homeowners insurance. What exactly does that mean?
It means if you didn’t notice that puddle of standing water in your basement and mold eats through your floorboards and your couch falls through your living room floor, you’re going to have to cover it yourself.
Why is that?
Most homeowners insurance providers view mold and the problems and damages associated with it as the result of homeowner negligence. Unless you can prove the mold was caused by something that’s already covered by your policy — like a burst pipe or a malfunctioning appliance, for instance — you’ll likely have to pay for mold remediation and any repairs required out of pocket.
The source of the mold is almost always the determining factor in whether your policy will cover the damage it caused. Mold caused by a broken-down hot water heater? Probably. Mold in your crawl space that showed up after a particularly rainy week? Probably not.
Pro Tip: Every insurance provider is different, and every policy is unique. Make sure you fully understand what is and isn’t covered by your policy by speaking with your insurance agent. Ask a lot of questions!
If you add a mold endorsement to your policy, however, you can rest a little easier. Once that rider is added, your policy will most likely pay to have mold cleaned up and repaired regardless of its source.
There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. We’re going to talk in more detail about what exactly mold insurance looks like and how to purchase it, but first let’s learn a little more about what we’re up against.
What Is Mold, Exactly?
Mold is an umbrella term for various types of fungi that thrive in moist environments. Crawlspaces, basements, attics, and other small, poorly ventilated areas of your home are susceptible to mold, and, unless you’re vigilant, a major infestation can occur in a short amount of time.
Plenty of molds are harmless, but others can cause major health problems. Stachybotrys chartarum, more commonly referred to as black mold, is particularly nasty. Thriving on damp, cellulose-rich materials such as wet wood, black mold can cause a number of respiratory issues. It can even be deadly if exposure is prolonged or you have an underlying condition such as asthma.
FYI: Mold grows by spreading spores — tiny, sometimes microscopic, reproductive bodies. Breathing in these spores can cause serious illness, particularly in people who are already sensitive.
The long and short of it is that you don’t want mold in your home, regardless of the variety. Luckily, prevention isn’t all that difficult.
How Can I Prevent Mold?
Mold can’t grow in the absence of moisture. Armed with that knowledge, there are a few ways to prevent its growth in your home.
- Keep humidity levels low
- Make sure airflow in your home is unrestricted
- Fix any leaks in your roof, walls, or plumbing
- Add mold inhibitors to your paint before repainting
- Clean with mold-killing products
- Install a dehumidifier in particularly moist areas such as basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms
- Inspect your home for mold on a regular basis
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Even if you do everything right, though, mold can still creep into your home. What should you do if you discover mold?
What Should I Do If I See Mold?
It depends on the situation. If the mold isn’t widespread, then it’s possible to remove it yourself. Store-bought mold cleaners work well, as does diluted bleach in water. Keep in mind, though, that mold can live in unseen areas, and can come back easily once it’s removed. Make sure you’re addressing all the underlying causes of the mold, and check the area frequently after cleaning to ensure it hasn’t returned.
Pro Tip: When dealing with mold, it’s important to wear the appropriate protective gear. Goggles, gloves, and a high-quality face mask are all recommended.
If the mold is widespread, then you’re going to have to call in the professionals. There are specific techniques for removing and repairing widespread mold infestations that you’re not going to be able to handle on your own. Remember, large amounts of mold can be dangerous to your health. You don’t want to make yourself sick trying to clean it up.
What Is Mold Insurance?
Most home insurance policies don’t cover mold that results from homeowner negligence or natural events such as major storms or floods. To find out if this is the case with your policy, read through the section that lists out your covered and noncovered perils. More than likely you’ll find a laundry list of uncovered threats related to mold, dry rot, mildew, and fungi. If that all sounds like Greek to you, then give your provider a call. They can tell you exactly what’s covered by your policy and what isn’t.
FYI: If you notice mold in your home and want to make a claim to have it fixed, don’t touch it. Take pictures and videos of the affected areas and give them to your insurance provider. That will help you establish the extent of the damage, and it’ll help your provider better understand the source of the infestation.
If you find your coverage lacking in regards to mold, then most insurance providers will add an endorsement to your policy. It’ll cost a little more, but it might be worth it in the long run — particularly if you live in a humid state like Florida. Essentially this endorsement will remove the language from your policy that excludes mold as a named peril, which is a fancy way of saying if you discover mold, you can make a claim to have it removed and the damage repaired.
That may seem like a no-brainer. Of course you’d want mold covered by your policy, right? Well, there are a few considerations.
Do I Need Mold Insurance?
Adding mold protection to your policy is a matter of personal preference, and it will likely depend on your geography, the structure of your home, and your overall budget. If you live in a manufactured home in Arizona, you may not need mold coverage. If you live in a century-old house with a huge basement in a humid state like Louisiana, you should certainly consider it.
With that in mind, the more likely you are to experience a mold problem, the more expensive protection will be. Florida has some of the highest rates for mold insurance, and it can easily add hundreds of dollars to your annual premium. Whether this is worth it depends on a variety of factors, including how likely you are to experience mold, how proactive you’ll be in preventing it, and how quickly you can take action if it’s discovered.
Which provider should you go with if you’re looking to protect yourself from mold? Glad you asked.
Who Offers the Best Mold Insurance?
Most providers offer some type of mold coverage, but some are better than others when it comes to dealing with this specific threat.
- Lemonade: One of the best new insurers out there, Lemonade offers mold insurance when it’s caused by a covered event. For more information, you can read our review of Lemonade home insurance.
- State Farm: State Farm is a great option for people looking to protect themselves from all sorts of threats — including mold — at a reasonable price. It offers up to $10,000 for remediation of mold caused by covered incidents. Check out our State Farm review for more.
- Nationwide: Comprehensive coverage and customer service are two of our favorite things about Nationwide. If you’re looking to protect yourself from mold and a host of other perils, it’s a great option. Read our analysis of Nationwide to learn more.
Let’s say you decide on one of these providers and you opt to add additional mold protection to your policy. You want to cover all your bases, and it’s not too expensive for you. After a particularly rainy month, you discover some mold that looks like it could be threatening, and you’re not confident you can take care of it yourself. What then?
How Do I Make a Mold Claim?
If you notice extensive mold in your home and want your homeowners insurance to cover mold remediation, there are a few steps you’ll need to take.
- Document everything. Take high-quality photos of the affected areas, as well as video showing the location and scope of the problem. That way your insurance provider will get a better understanding of what you’re dealing with.
- Gather your maintenance records. You want to be able to demonstrate that your mold problem is not the result of neglect. If you had your gutters cleaned recently or repaired a hole in your roof, that’ll be pertinent information in making your case.
- File your claim. You can likely do this online, but it’s usually better to call your provider directly and follow all their instructions. Let them know exactly what the issue is, and ask them how to proceed. Each provider is different and each situation is unique. Work with them to come up with a plan.
- In the meantime, research contractors in your area that are licensed to remediate mold. The mold-removal industry isn’t highly regulated, so make sure you hire someone who knows what they’re doing and can give you an accurate estimate for repairs.
Hopefully your insurance provider will take it from there. It’ll pay for the cost of the remediation and repairs, and you can be done with it. Your claim may be denied, but that’s not the end of the world. There are still steps you can take.
What Happens If My Mold Claim Is Denied?
The unfortunate reality is that your homeowners insurance provider often will deny you the coverage you feel entitled to. If you make a claim for mold remediation and it’s denied, you don’t need to panic.
FYI: Not all homeowners insurance providers are created equal. Some take customer service far more seriously than others, so be sure to read online reviews before making your selection. You don’t want to be neglected when you need it most.
Get in touch with a licensed contractor to give you their professional opinion on the source of the mold. If they say you should have been covered, then you can appeal your provider’s denial. If you’re still not getting anywhere, then it may also be worth it to contact your state insurance commission, which can help get your claim approved or lodge a formal complaint regarding the denial.
We hope it won’t come to that for you, and it shouldn’t if you’ve purchased adequate protections.
That about wraps us up. You should now have a much better handle on what causes mold, the threats it poses, how homeowners insurance providers approach mold problems, and whether purchasing additional mold protection is a good idea for you. We have a few parting thoughts though.
Final Thoughts on Mold Insurance
Ultimately, whether you need additional mold insurance is a personal choice that will be based on how big a threat you think mold poses to your home and how much you’re willing to spend to protect yourself against it.
If you live in an area where mold is rarely a problem, then you may be less inclined to spend the extra money to protect yourself from it. If you’re in an area where mold is a problem, though, you may spring for additional coverage.
The worst time to decide you need coverage is after you need it. You don’t want to be kicking yourself for not spending the extra couple bucks to protect yourself when that musty smell starts wafting up from the basement.
If you’re in the market for homeowners insurance or looking to switch providers, then a great place to start is our top 10 list of the best homeowners insurance providers of 2022. You’ll find plenty of companies that can protect you against mold, moisture, and whatever else life throws at you.
Good luck, and stay safe and dry!
Mold Insurance FAQs
The short answer is sometimes. It depends on the source of the mold though. If it was caused by a covered peril, then your homeowners insurance will likely cover remediation. If not, then you’re probably on your own.
Mold can be hazardous to human health, particularly when it’s abundant. People with respiratory illnesses are particularly at risk.
Mold typically grows in dark, moist places. Crawlspaces, basements, behind walls, and underneath carpets are all prime areas for mold infestations.
Homeowners may be able to remove minor mold outbreaks, but it’s best to call in professionals if an infestation is significant.
Depending on the extent of the infestation and the amount of damage it’s caused, professional mold removal can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.