Home insurance covers a lot of perils and the results of sudden accidental losses. But mold doesn’t happen immediately in most cases so the question becomes: does home insurance cover mold?
If you ask an insurance agent, you’re sure to get a hedged answer that sounds something like, “Well it depends on where the mold came from.” While this answer is true, it isn’t always helpful.
What the insurance agent means is this: if the mold is caused by something that is a covered peril that was properly mitigated, it would be covered. If the mold is caused by an extended period of time where the homeowner didn’t properly address a problem, the mold wouldn’t be covered.
Examples of Perils Where Mold Is Covered
Your mold has to be caused by a covered peril. This means that you must have some type of water damage that leads to mold. Two common examples of getting mold covered include:
- A pipe burst and saturates cabinets, drywall, and wood.
- A tree blows over in a storm putting a hole in the roof that lets water in, saturating the interior.
- Firefighters use a hose to put out a fire in your home.
Remember that mold isn’t visible immediately (though it can grow as quickly as 24 hours), but you probably had a claim involving the water damage for other things that would cause the mold to be covered. After all, if there was enough water to saturate things, there was likely damage to flooring, cabinets, and home belongings. You’ll want to keep a sharp eye out for mold soon after.
Often, during water claims, a water restoration company would install dehumidifiers to pull the water out of the walls and surrounding materials. This is often enough to mitigate any potential mold issues, but not always. It could be weeks or months later that you discover the mold. In this case, the mold would be covered if it could be traced back to the original claim.
Examples Where Mold Is Not Covered
Not every mold claim is covered. Remember, the incident that led to the mold has to be a covered one and is generally a sudden burst of water rather than a slow leak. This means that a leaking pipe under your sink would not qualify for mold claim coverage.
In fact, if you had a burst pipe (a covered claim) and discovered mold in the process of fixing the pipe, the insurance claims representative would question how the mold started. They would likely conclude that the mold was there due to a leak for some time and not the result of the burst pipe. In this case, the mold will not likely be covered.
Caps on Mold Coverage
Insurance companies want homeowners to properly maintain their homes. By doing so, they can reduce higher value claims. As such, many insurance carriers place a cap on the amount of mold remediation and removal you might be entitled to in a covered claim. This can often be limited to $10,000 for a single event.
Mold Resulting from Flood
Hurricane Katrina left thousands of homeowners with flood damage that eventually led to mold damage. It was simply impossible for insurance companies and remediation companies to address the water saturation fast enough leading to mold.
Unlike other covered claims, if the homeowner did not have a specific flood insurance policy, mold removal and remediation would not have been covered. Flood insurance is usually a standalone policy or an endorsement that you pay extra for on your homeowners insurance. In order for mold resulting from a flood to be covered, it needs to be covered under the details of a flood insurance policy.
Resulting Water Damage
It doesn’t take a lot of water to lead to significant and costly damage. According to FEMA, one inch of water can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in damage. That’s often just the initial damage where you need to replace flooring, drywall, and cabinetry. If the remediation of the water was not 100% complete, you might still have moisture lurking in the walls that will cause mold to grow and thrive. It doesn’t take much water for mold to grow.
How Long Does It Take Mold to Form?
It can take as little as 24 to 48 hours for mold to germinate and grow. Spores will then colonize and that can lead to a bigger problem with the mold becoming visible in 18 to 21 days.
This can be tricky because if you had drywall replaced, but there was still moisture on the studs and in the walls, you might not be aware of the mold for quite some time. In some cases, it might take months for the mold to show through the new drywall.