Everything Georgia Homeowners need to know about mold removal and homeowners insurance
One of the most common questions homeowners have is, “is mold removal covered by my homeowner’s insurance?” and unfortunately, the answer is “Yes” and “No.” Mold and its health effects is a topic that’s just recently gaining traction. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have a set standard or Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores. However, we know that prolonged exposure to elevated levels of toxic mold spores can lead to various symptoms.
When Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Mold Remediation?
Within your homeowner’s insurance policy you will find a detailed list of “covered perils”. Covered perils are simply specific instances of damage to your home/property for which a claim can be filed. Every policy is different so it’s important to understand what exactly is covered by your insurance carrier and policy. Mold is caused by excess moisture which can be attributed to water damage or high humidity, let’s take a look at some common examples in which a homeowner’s policy would likely cover mold removal.
Examples of When Mold Removal Could be Covered By Your Home Insurance Policy
- Example: After a residential fire in which firefighters used water to extinguish the flames mold is found.
- Example: A faulty appliance such as a dishwasher or washing machine fails resulting in water damage and mold growth to the surrounding area.
- Example: A tree falls through your roof causing water damage to the residence that results in mold growth.
- Example: Your water heater fails (not due to negligence) and causes water damage to the surrounding sheetrock.
How Much Will My Policy Cover Towards Mold Removal?
Believe it or not, there was once a time where insurance carriers covered mold and mold removal much more liberally than they do now. Insurance carriers afterall, are a business, and mold remediation is expensive and carries significant risk to their bottom line.
These days the amount your policy might pay out for mold repair and removal may not cover all of the damage. It is quite common for policies to limit mold removal and remediation to $10,000 per claim. Higher limits aren’t uncommon in policies for higher end homes, contact your agent to get a better understanding of your policy. Mold coverage can also be added as an optional rider, but depending on where you live, Texas or Florida for example, coverage can be quite expensive.
When Does Homeowner’s Insurance Not Cover Mold Remediation?
Examples of When Mold Removal Is Not Covered By Your Home Insurance Policy
- Example: The pipes below your kitchen sink have leaked for years, the prolonged water damage has now caused mold to grow throughout your cabinets.
- Example: The relative humidity in your basement is conducive to mold growth and the homeowner failed to install a dehumidifier. Toxic black mold spreads throughout the basement as a result.
- Example: Squirrels have managed to find a way into your attic resulting in rain water seeping into the attic causing a mold infestation.
- Example: Clogged downspouts and poor drainage results in rain water pooling against the home’s foundation, resulting in water intrusion and mold growth in the basement.
- Example: Water damage caused by storm surges and floods resulting in mold growth.
- Example: Cracked caulking around windows allows moisture and rainwater to collect resulting mold growth around the window sill.
Neglect or Lack of Maintenance
Anytime mold is considered to be caused by the homeowner’s own neglect or lack of maintenance, you can expect a claim to be denied by the insurance carrier. Neglect is considered to be any damage caused by ignoring regular repairs and maintenance to such an extent that mold results. Mold remediation isn’t going to be covered by your policy if its caused by neglect or lack of upkeep.
Flooding and Acts of Mother Nature
In cases where mold results from water damage brought on by storm surges or flood waters remediation is not typically covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy. Flood damage is typically covered in a separate flood insurance policy.
In the case that you do have a flood insurance policy and your home floods, your policy still likely does not cover mold removal or remediation in all cases. An additional mold rider may be worth looking into. Check with your insurance carrier for more information.
For Example: “Flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program will not cover damage from mold, except for very rare circumstances, such as when floodwaters remain in the area and prevent you from inspecting and maintaining the home, or when an authorized official bans entrance to the area.”
What to Do When Filing a Mold Damage Claim
In a perfect world you would never have to file a mold claim but in the case that you have to here are a few things you can do to improve your chances of having your claim approved.
- Pay Attention to Regular Upkeep and Maintenance
- Install dehumidifiers in damp areas (basements, laundry rooms, and bathrooms for example)
- Check for leaks and cracks in pipes regularly
- Regularly clean gutters and downspouts
- Check appliances and water heaters for signs of leaks and general wear and tear
- Regularly inspect your roof and windows, particularly after heavy rain and wind.
- Insulate interior and exterior pipes in the winter months
- Understand what is and isn’t covered by your homeowner’s policy. It’s always better to know what is and isn’t covered prior to needing to know what is and isn’t covered.
- When filing a claim
- Document everything with photos and video
- Provide maintenance records
- Keep records of all communication with the insurance carrier
- Contact a reliable mold contractor and indoor air quality expert. In the state of GA there are no licensing requirements, so it’s extremely important that you vet your contractor and their certifications beforehand. In many cases, an expert contractor can provide documentation and examples that strengthen your case with the insurance company.