insure logo

Why you can trust Insure.com

quality icon

Quality Verified

At Insure.com, we are committed to providing honest and reliable information so that you can make the best financial decisions for you and your family. All of our content is written and reviewed by industry professionals and insurance experts. We maintain strict editorial independence from insurance companies to maintain our editorial integrity, so our recommendations are unbiased and are based on a comprehensive list of criteria.

Most homeowners don’t think about mold until it’s already a problem. Mold damage can happen behind the walls of your home, and in many cases, you may not even be aware that it is there. Unfortunately, many are surprised to find out what is and isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance when it comes to mold damage. Houses by coastlines or in humid areas are especially prone to mold damage.

In addition to damaging your home, mold can also damage your health. Exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation and wheezing. If your home has a mold issue it’s important to get it repaired quickly and professionally. In some cases, your homeowners insurance will help cover the cost of mold mitigation. 

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about making a mold claim on your homeowner policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Most home insurance policies cover mold if it was caused by a covered peril.
  • Insurance policies will not cover mold that is the result of a maintenance issue. For example, if there is mold due to a pipe leak or humid climate.
  • If you find mold in your home, the best thing to do is to call a company that specializes in mold mitigation.
  • Mold removal can be expensive, so it is important to have homeowners insurance to help cover the costs.

Is mold damage covered by homeowners insurance?

There is a good chance your home already has mold in it somewhere. It’s just not an emergency yet.

“Every home across the country has some level of mold in it because it’s organic, and a lot of times it’s innocuous enough,” says Matthew Blumkin, a principal and public adjuster at the Greenspan Co./Adjusters International in Los Angeles, California

“But when you have an event that causes water to impact the home, such as a storm, broken pipe or firefighting efforts, the mold can spread, leading to a serious situation. The greatest concern about mold for insurance claims is whether it existed before or after the event,” continues Blumkin.

Blumkin also warns that the situation gets even worse when water or moisture damage isn’t cleaned up quickly, such as after wildfires and other natural disasters. “We find that time is the biggest problem resulting in a mold claim. The longer it sits, the more it grows. The more it grows, the harder it is to deal with,” he says.

While a homeowners policy often covers mold, there are major restrictions to coverage. In most cases, mold is only covered if it is caused by a covered peril that is listed in your policy, such as accidental water damage. 

If pipe bursts in your home and the resulting water damage causes mold to develop, your policy should cover the damage. Here are a few other situations where your homeowners insurance should cover mold damage:

  • Sudden washing machine leak
  • Sudden water heater leak
  • Water damage caused by putting out a fire
  • Burst or frozen pipes

You should read your policy in full to note what is and isn’t covered.

Many insurers put a cap on mold damage coverage. While it varies by insurance company, coverage caps typically range from $1,000 to $10,000. It is possible to purchase higher coverage levels, but additional mold coverage can be expensive. 

When is mold damage excluded from homeowners insurance coverage?

There are numerous exclusions when it comes to mold. Here are a few common exclusions:

Neglect or a lack of maintenance: If a lack of maintenance or neglect leads to water damage or mold, your insurer will most likely deny your claim. Examples of neglect exclusions include:

  • Claims dealing with improperly sealed doors or windows that lead to water leaks or mold.
  • If a leaky faucet or pipe that was not repaired promptly leads to mold, your insurer will most likely deny the claim. Repair any leaking pipes or faucets as soon as you notice them. 
  • Mold in a poorly ventilated room that is commonly damp or moist such as a bathroom, can lead to a claim denial. Always make sure your bathrooms and basements are well-ventilated. 

Sump pump failure: Mold and water damage due to a sump pump failure are typically not covered by homeowners policy, but it’s possible to add sump pump failure and water backup coverage as a rider or endorsement on your policy. This coverage comes with an additional premium, but in most cases, it is pretty affordable.

Flood damage: Flood damage is excluded from homeowner insurance policies. In order to be covered, you will need to get a separate flood insurance policy. However, coverage for mold damage is rare.

Steps to filing a mold claim

Filing a mold claim is usually straightforward, but there are factors that can impact your claim. In many cases, mold damage may not be found until months after the incident that caused it. 

As an example, if your pipes burst, you may not discover mold growing in your walls until weeks or months after this happened. If this is the case, you will need to contact your insurance company to verify you can still make a claim for the damage. 

Many insurers require homeowners to report mold damage within six months of the date of the event that caused the mold. If you are outside this claim window, you may not be able to file a claim for the damage, which is why it is important to have your home tested for mold after a flooding event or water leak. 

Here is a quick rundown of how to file a mold claim: 

  • Stop the leak as quickly as possible. If the mold is caused by a water leak, turn off the main water valve to stop the water leak. 
  • Contact your insurance company. Immediately report any water damage or mold in your home.
  • Document the damage with photos and videos. Take photos and videos from multiple angles, and document all the damage. 
  • Take steps to prevent the mold from growing and spreading. Ventilate the affected area and clean up any excess water. If possible, run a dehumidifier or air conditioner to dry the area. If your insurer asks you to make temporary repairs or take further preventive steps, you should follow their directions as long as it is safe. Keep your receipts for any supplies you need to make temporary repairs. 
  • Fill out a claim form and submit your documentation. Every insurance company has a unique claim process, so be sure to follow all the instructions they send you regarding your claim. This will make sure your claim is processed quickly and fairly. 
  • Receive a visit from the insurance adjuster, who will review and document the damage. Make sure you are available to show the adjuster all the damage and point out anything they may have missed. 
  • The insurance company will approve or deny your claim. Once your insurer has approved your claim, you will need to find a local mold removal company to have the damage cleaned up and repaired properly. Your insurer may have preferred companies they like to work with, or they may leave it up to you. 
  • Provide all documentation and receipts to your insurer. Once your home has been repaired and the mold removed, you should provide all documentation to your insurer so they can reimburse you for the repairs. The insurer will issue a payout to you or directly to the mold removal company. 

What to do if your mold claim is denied

Mold claims can be tricky, particularly if it was caused by a leak instead of a storm. Many insurers will try to argue that the mold was caused by the homeowner’s faiure to repair a leak in a timely manner. 

If your insurer has denied your mold claim and you disagree with your insurer regarding the cause of the mold, you can appeal the decision. Most insurance companies allow policyholders to appeal a decision on a claim, but you will need to provide evidence that supports your claim in order to convince the insurance company you are correct. 

If your insurer denies your appeal, there are a couple of other options available to you:

Hire a private adjuster

Private adjusters are professional insurance claim handlers that you can hire to handle your claim and negotiate with the insurance company. Private adjusters have experience dealing with insurers and can often get a claim or appeal approved. 

In most cases, a private adjuster will appraise the damage to your home, prepare an estimate, deal with the claim paperwork, determine your coverage, and negotiate with the insurance company’s claims adjuster.

However, they do come with a fairly steep price tag. A private adjuster will typically charge a percentage of the payout amount they get the insurance company to pay. Fees typically range from 5 to 20%. 

Hire a lawyer

The final option is to hire a lawyer and sue your insurance company. If you feel you are being treated unfairly by your insurance company, a lawyer may be able to help you get your claim settled. Like a public adjuster, a lawyer typically comes with a big fee, so hiring a lawyer should be saved for major claims. 

Are there caps on the payout for mold damage?

Most insurers have a cap on the amount they will pay for mold damage. While it varies by insurance company, it’s usually capped anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. While this may be enough to cover a small to moderate mold incident, if you have severe mold damage in your home these coverage caps will leave you underinsured. 

One way to stretch your limited mold coverage is to ensure that only mold mitigation costs are applied to policy limits. Blumkin advises homeowners to make sure that only the additional cost for mold remediation above what would normally be charged if mold were not present is applied toward your policy’s mold limitations rather than the full repair cost.

For example, if restoration crews are cutting out wet or burnt drywall, only the additional cost for handling moldy drywall rather than regular damaged drywall should be placed into the mold remediation category.

“The fact that it was moldy doesn’t mean that 100 percent of the removal cost goes into the policy mold limits — only the increased cost to deal with mold on the drywall should go into the mold limitation amount,” Blumkin says.

So, for example, if it costs $1 per square foot to remove drywall that is damaged or destroyed as part of the covered event but it’s $1.10 per square foot to remove drywall with mold on it, only the extra 10 cents should be applied toward the mold coverage amount. If you are concerned about the mold limits on your policy, you can purchase additional mold coverage as a rider, though this is often expensive.

How to prevent mold damage in your home

Mold is everywhere but usually doesn’t pose a problem. There are several things you can do to prevent mold from growing in your home.

Moisture control: Controlling the moisture levels in your home is key. Determine where the mold is coming from to stop it from happening by controlling the humidity levels in your home. You can use ventilating fans and dehumidifiers. 

Inspect your pipes: Inspect your faucets, pipes and hoses on a regular basis. Always fix any leaks you find immediately. 

Rainwater: Always make sure that your gutters and downspouts are directed away from your home.

Roofing: Have your roof inspected on a regular basis and repair any damage immediately. Keep gutters clean and free of debris.

Carpet: Avoid installing carpet in areas that are often damp or collect moisture. This  includes bathrooms and basements. 

Use professionals: If you have a mold issue, you should hire mold professionals to deal with it. 

“If you’re a homeowner and you do identify mold, the best thing to do is hire a firm that specializes in mold remediation and has all their certifications. It’s probably not the kind of thing you want to try to remediate by yourself,” says Jeff Schwenk, president of Continental Machinery Co.

Blumkin suggests sitting down with your agent or broker to understand the coverage limits for mold remediation. “It can get expensive to repair mold, so the more help homeowners can get in covering those costs [through insurance] the better,” says Blumkin.

Mold can be a homeowner headache, but you can resolve many issues by taking preventive measures. If you wind up with a mold problem, your homeowners policy could help you tackle the issue. 

Mold can be an homeowner headache, but by taking preventive measures, you can resolve many issues. If you wind up with a mold problem, your homeowners policy could help you tackle the issue. 

Frequently asked questions

Who pays for mold remediation? 

Your insurance company pays for mold remediation, but it will only be covered up to a certain dollar amount. The coverage amount varies by insurer and policy but typically ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 per occurrence. You can get extra coverage through your insurance company by paying more. 

Can you clean mold damage yourself? 

You can clean the mold damage yourself if the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet, according to the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

Does homeowners insurance cover mold caused by flood damage? 

A standard homeowners insurance policy will not cover mold damage if flood waters cause it. 

author image
Mark Vallet
Contributing Researcher

 
|
  

Mark is a freelance journalist and analyst with over 15 years of experience covering the insurance industry.

Go To Top