There are few things more difficult than having a problem in your home and not being able to fix it. While smaller issues like appliance breakage or minor repairs can usually be done through tapping into credit cards, more expensive repairs can be challenging to finance. Having a homeowner’s insurance policy for some unexpected repairs can be a big help. However, homeowner insurance policies do not cover all types of damage to a home. It is essential to understand what typical homeowner insurance policies cover and what they do not.
While tree damage from storms is one of the most common homeowner claims, water damage and mold remediation are also a primary homeowner insurance policy claim. Water damage is the second most filed homeowner’s insurance claim just behind hail and wind damage. Of all the natural cataclysms, flooding is the number one natural disaster in America. While it may seem simple to remove excess water after a flooding event, water damage can be more difficult to remedy. Water can degrade building materials and cause mold growth. When it comes to water damage and mold remediation, most policies cover some types of water and mold damage. Understanding what is included in your homeowner policy is essential.
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that grows in certain conditions, especially ones that have high rates of humidity and moisture. The mold fungus consists of small organisms and is most often found as black, white, orange, green, or purple stains on building materials, clothing, food, trees, and even rock formations.
Mold is a serious health risk, and if left unattended, it can make a home uninhabitable. While mold grows naturally in the forest and can be easily identified on rock formations and in moss, when mold grows in a home or confined space, it is dangerous for the body. Mold can cause damage to the lungs and immune system.
Any area where water pools or gets trapped, mold can grow. Attics and basements are common areas for storm damage flooding. However, mold can grow in almost any part of a home. In general, mold needs several things to grow, moisture, a lack of air so moisture gets trapped and some kind of food source.
The most common food source for mold in a home is building materials and things that are biodegradable such as clothing. In fact, mold can grow on almost biodegradable or rock surface and will readily feed off sheetrock, carpeting, wood, roof tiles, and flooring materials as well as furniture and personal belongings. Mold growth in a home is most commonly found in bathrooms, on roofs, in attics and basements and around bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas.
When Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Water and Mold Damage?
In most cases, sudden unexpected water damage is covered under your regular homeowner’s insurance policy. This should include both water damage repair and mold remediation. However, there are two caveats to this. If the home floods from rain and is located in a flood plain, it usually will not be covered unless there is a flood insurance policy in place. Without flood insurance, most storm flooding costs for mold remediation fall on the homeowner.
If a home has mold growth because of neglect from the homeowner, the claim will probably be denied as well. Each causal factor plays a significant role in whether a home is covered for mold remediation.
Homes that suffer from flooding damage caused by neglect from a town or builder may be covered for water damage and mold remediation depending on the circumstances. People who have unexpected burst pipes or a burst hot water tank that causes flooding and mold will likely be covered by a typical homeowner’s insurance policy.
Buying flood insurance is the best way to insure for mold remediation from storms. However, many homeowners do not buy flood insurance unless they live near major waterways. With flash flooding from severe storm systems across the country on the rise, it is probably wise for homeowners to invest in flood insurance. While storm damage may be covered under a traditional homeowner’s policy, flood damage insurance is what usually includes mold remediation from storm systems. Flood coverage is separate insurance that is not part of standard home insurance.
Types of Scenarios Where Mold Remediation Is Usually Covered by Homeowners Insurance
- Your hot water heater bursts, flooding your basement, which results in black mold growth on the surrounding walls.
- You have a home fire, and firefighters use extensive water to extinguish the flames and mold grows in the rooms they hosed down with water.
- Your dishwasher or washing machine malfunctions and floods your kitchen or washroom, which results in mold growing along the wall.
Types of Scenarios Where Mold Remediation Is Often Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance
- Your bathtub has had a leak in the fixture piping for a long time which you knew about and failed to fix causing a mold infestation.
- Your basement often has high humidity, and you didn’t purchase a dehumidifier for your basement, so black mold grew on the walls and flooring.
- A storm causes flooding in your attic from deteriorated roof shingles, and subsequently, mold growth occurs in your home.
When a home suffers mold damage caused by a slow water leak, this is usually not part of standard homeowners’ insurance unless it was unknown. Since mold usually takes a day or two to appear, water damage that seeps into a home should always be a priority to remediate.
Some of the common causes of slow-growing mold can include, leaky pipes, a cracked seal around a toilet or bathtub, roof tile damage, or a water heater leak. These types of slow leaks may go undetected and cause water to go into hidden pockets of building materials. If this occurs and water remediation is not done immediately, mold will begin to grow. This type of mold growth may be difficult to detect until it has significantly spread behind walls and under flooring.
Getting Additional Coverage
Flash flooding and storm flooding are common causes for both water damage and mold growth in a home. In most cases, the mold remediation required after storm damage is not covered unless the homeowner has purchased a flood insurance rider. In some cases, FEMA funds are available after a natural disaster for some homes. However, FEMA should not be relied upon for flood and mold remediation coverage because it is often insufficient to cover severe flooding and mold damage.
For people who are concerned about the possibility of storm damage causing mold growth after flooding, the purchase of flood insurance is recommended. Typical flood insurance will run a homeowner around $700 annually. This can be very cost-effective because water and mold remediation after flooding can cost thousands of dollars.