Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?
Homeowners insurance is designed to cover you against an array of damages. However, some insurance policies often use vague wording when it comes to mold coverage.
This makes it difficult to determine whether the mold damage you might encounter will be covered. In most cases, policies exclude mold damage coverage, except when the mold results from a covered claim, such as water damage.
So, does homeowners insurance cover mold?
The answer is yes and no! It depends on the type of mold (long-term or recent) and has to be within the general area of the materials affected. Most insurance policies have a “Fungal” limit on their policies of $5,000. This implies that if all you have is mold (no water damage), you may get a total of $5,000 towards everything.
On the other hand, if you have both mold and water, the policy is separated from the maximum dwelling coverage. Another $5,000 will be added for the abatement of mold and replacement of any materials only affected by mold and not the water.
The mold that results from accidental and sudden water damage, such as burst pipe, is normally covered. However, mold that forms over time because of flooding, leaking plumbing, or high humidity wouldn’t be covered. Besides, homeowner’s insurance does not cover property damage resulting from neglect or maintenance issues.
If your policy insurer discovers that the mold growth in your property could have been prevented, or the mold was present before the incident you claim caused it, then your claim will likely be denied. Therefore, it’s important to call your plumber immediately you hear, see, or suspect a water leak.
Can Mold from a Water Leak Make You Sick?
Water damage is a grave issue when it affects a home. When water gets into the home, it can seep into the walls, upholstery, carpeting, and many other crevices. One might think that it has all dried up, but it can lead to the formation of black mold if not properly and professionally done.
Black mold has been proven to pose a serious health issue, especially for people with a weakened immune system, an existing respiratory problem, or an allergy.
Mold can lead to breathing problems, allergy, bronchitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, among other health conditions.
Physical Symptoms of Mold
- Itchy skin
- Sore eyes
- Runny or blocked nose
- Sore throat
Can Small Water Leak Cause Mold?
When it comes to water leaks and mold, most homeowners fail to realize the extent of their connection.
Most homeowners are unaware that it’s not just serious water damage, like a visible leak or flooding, that causes mold formation. Any leak that’s not properly and professionally fixed can lead to mold formation.
Besides, mold is not something that takes a long period to develop either. Under the ideal conditions, mold can start growing and spread in one to two days.
Is Mold from a Water Leak Dangerous
It’s no secret that mold causes damage to a structure or its contents if left to spread.
However, the most serious concern is its health effects, as mentioned above.
In most instances, short exposure mold won’t affect the health or severely affect most people. People suffering from respiratory issues, those with a weakened immune system, and those with allergies will suffer the most.
How Long Does it Take for Mold to Grow From Water Damage?
Even if you have limited water intrusion and it doesn’t cause significant damage, it could still lead to mold problems. Any amount of mold accumulation inside a home can easily cause mold formation.
Mold spores are everywhere in the environment, so mold can start forming as soon as the ideal conditions- moisture and organic food- are present.
Under the ideal conditions, it takes just 24-48 hours for germination and growth. Usually, the spores start colonizing in 3-12 days and then become visible in around 18-21 days.
The time varies for different mold types and depends on the specific condition in the home, household materials and surface types in the affected areas, the moisture amount, the ideal temperature, and more.
Nevertheless, the more time the mold is left unattended, the higher the chances for it to grow and spread to other parts of the home. This could mean more potential problems when it comes to mold removal.
What Does Mold from Water Damage Look Like?
So, how do you spot mold? Mold is easier to spot when it starts growing. It tends to appear as small white or black specks.
Sometimes, mold tends to grow in hidden parts such as behind wall coverings or ceiling tiles.
It is often accompanied by a musty odor, implying that you’ll smell it if you cannot see it.
Since mold normally grows in humid regions or areas with high water use, it’s advisable to check for mold in the kitchen, basement, laundry room, or bathroom.
As a property owner, you can check for water leaks by yourself by looking for:
- Damp areas inside the property
- Abrupt changes in water pressure
- Damp or musty odors
- Sounds of trickling, dripping, or rushing water
- Stains in the ceilings or on the walls
- Abrupt increase in the water bill costs
How do you Prevent Mold from Growing After Water Damage?
There’s a 24-48 hour window between water intrusion and the start of mold growth. If the flooded areas are entirely and correctly dried off within this period, there’s very little chance of mold growth.
Proper drying, however, can be a daunting task. This is because water can easily find its way into all materials and spread under floors, through ceilings, and into walls.
However, below are some steps you can take immediately after water damage to prevent or discourage mold growth.
It’s advisable to hire a professional to handle the job since they have the correct tools and equipment for a quick and efficient job.
Remove the water
The first thing is to remove all the water from the affected area. You can rent specialized water vacuums to draw the water away for an efficient job.
Avoid touching it without the ideal protective gear if the water is from a sewer backup, natural flood, or similar disaster.
Contaminated water could have dangerous pathogens and chemicals that can affect your health and cause disease.
Remove the damp carpets and rugs
Damp carpets and rags usually take longer to dry compared to the less porous building materials.
Therefore, it’s important to remove them from the affected areas and steam clean them to remove all germs and contaminants.
Alternatively, you can dry them in the sun to reduce the chances of mold growth. If left untended, mold will grow underneath them and spread to other parts of the building.
Dry the wet surfaces
After removing the rugs and carpets, dry all the wet surfaces to prevent moisture.
You can use a dry mop or rag to soak up the water left behind by the vacuum.
One can also rent industrial-sized dehumidifiers that can remove all moisture and ensure the rooms dry quickly.
Keep the room and surfaces dry
Ensure the room’s humidity is below 50% to discourage mold. You can use a humidifier to achieve this or open all windows and aerate the home if the weather outside is warm and sunny. This ensures the home remains dry after the excess water is removed.
Be aware of warning signs
Once you’ve cleaned and dried your home, continue being vigilant and sensitive to the early mold growth signs such as musty odors and black or white spots.
How to Prevent Having your Mold Damage Claim Rejected
Numerous instances can cause your homeowner’s insurance policy claim to be denied. To improve the chances of your claim approval if you incur mold damage;
- Regularly check plumbing fittings and pipes to look for leaks
- Install dehumidifiers in sections that are damp prone.
- Amply ventilate kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and other parts of the home that are prone to mold growth.
- Ensure the gutters are cleaned to avoid ice dam formation in the winter, which can cause leaks.
- Routinely inspect the roof, around doors and windows, and caulk the cracks that lead to water leakage.
- Adequately insulate the exterior and interior pipes during the winter to prevent leaks or breakages.
- Frequently inspect water heaters and appliances for signs of leaks.
If you’re filing a claim for mold damage, ensure to:
- Properly document the damage with videos and photos
- Include up-to-date maintenance records
- Follow all the instructions provided by your insurance company to process the claim
- Hire a licensed and approved mold removal company to sort out the damage
- A homeowners insurance policy does not guarantee mold removal coverage.
- Usually, mold damage is covered only if it’s related to water-related damage.
- If the mold infestation is considered preventable, homeowners insurance will exclude the coverage for mold removal.
- Mold damage as a result of flooding is not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance. A separate flood insurance policy would be required.
- Immediately after you suspect a water leak, call your plumber. Most insurance companies consider homeowner negligence and delays as the basis to reject claims.