We get so many questions every week regarding what is and isn’t covered by your insurance. Curiosity about mold and whether coverage applies is one of the most common items people ask.
So picture this—you've finally purchased that dream home that has been gracing your Pinterest board for years. It’s been a few months and the honeymoon phase of this new house is going strong. That is until you start to smell a weird odor coming from the dishwasher area. When you pull the dishwasher out, you find that there’s a mold of some sort that’s made itself at home in the wall. What now?!
Homeowners insurance policies are often confusing (and sometimes vague) phrasing about mold coverage. Because of this, it can be tough to figure out whether any mold damage you encounter will be covered. Typically, policies exclude coverage for mold damage, except when the mold is the result of a covered claim, such as water damage.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Removal?
Good question! Mold can be covered under your Oklahoma homeowner’s policy, but here’s the catch. Mold removal is only covered when the source of the mold is from a cause that is normally covered in your homeowner’s policy, such as a pipe busting which later leads to mold growing in the baseboards.
Most standard Oklahoma homeowner’s insurance policies protect you from water damage. This is going include accidental water damage like when a pipe bursts or an water overflow occurs due to a malfunctioning AC unit.
If the leftover moisture from that type of incident causes mold to find a new residence in your property, you'd be able to file a claim for mold removal, on top of repairing any property that has been damaged by that mold.
Example Scenarios Where Mold Remediation is Covered
- Your water heater ruptures, releasing water that causes black mold to grow on the in surrounding walls.
- You experience a home fire, and mold develops after firefighters use water to extinguish the flames.
- Your dishwasher malfunctions and floods your kitchen, resulting in mold growing along the base of your cabinetry.
It May Not Cover Everything…
Statistically, the remediation process can be expensive. Typically, Mold damage can run between $15,000 and $30,000. Because it comes with a hefty price tag, insurance companies have found ways to mitigate their risk. The most common way is by limiting the amount they will pay for mold damage—even if it is caused by a covered loss such as water damage. These are called sublimits.
Typically, insurance policies will state a maximum limit of between $1,000 and $10,000 for mold remediation. Depending on the company you’re with, there may be an option to increase that coverage. However, if you live in a mold-prone state where there is a lot of rain, this coverage can be expensive or nearly impossible to obtain.
So When is Mold Coverage Excluded From My Homeowners Policy?
So glad you asked! There are specific instances when mold is not covered at all. This is going to be when the mold is caused by neglect and lack of maintenance. An example of this may be when a homeowner notices a tiny leak and does nothing to stop the issue because the amount of water seems so small. Over time, however, that leak could cause much bigger issues as the once small water leak has now caused black mold to infiltrate the floor.
If you try to file a claim for the leak—and the resulting mold—weeks or even days after the leak was detected, your insurance provider would most likely claim that you failed to act immediately and therefore deny coverage. Also, no mold damage resulting from a regional flood will be covered, since flooding coverage is excluded from your homeowner's insurance policy. You must purchase a separate flood policy. If you did purchase a flood policy, then the mold should be covered under that policy.
Example Scenarios Where Mold Remediation Is Not Covered
- Your bathtub has leaked for years, resulting in a mold infestation.
- You live in a humid climate and failed to use a dehumidifier in your basement, and black mold grew as a result.
- A storm causes flooding, and subsequently mold growth, in your home.
How to File a Homeowners Claim When You Have Mold
In some cases, your mold claim will coincide with the claim you file for another incident like if there’s a house fire in which firefighters extinguish the flame with fire hoses. In that case, the insurance company may send a Fire/Water Restoration company that can fix the fire damage and dry out what can be salvaged. This is ideal, since it will minimize damage and prevent you from paying two deductibles—one for the fire repairs, the other for the future mold removal.
Also, it’s a good idea to keep detailed accounts of the damaged areas and repairs in order to support potential future claims. In other cases, you might discover mold some time after water damage has occurred. In these situations, you'll need to prove that the mold is resulting from the prior claim and not a new leak or lack of maintenance. If this is true, follow these steps to file a claim:
- Contact your insurance company to file the claim. With technology, this can typically be done online, via phone, or through the app. This is something your agent can help do for you as well. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them when disaster strikes.
- An adjustor should reach out between 24 and 48 hours. This does not mean you can’t take action to mitigate your loss. This is something that you can discuss with your Oklahoma independent insurance agent.
- Open windows or run a dehumidifier or fan in order to dry out the room and prevent further mold growth. However, don't try to clean or remove anything. The insurance adjuster needs to review all damaged property.
- Photograph all damaged areas and property and gather any relevant photos you have from the prior water damage to supplement your claim.
- Review your policy or consult your agent to determine your policy's mold coverage limits.
As best as possible, try to prove that this mold is related to your initial water damage claim. That way, you won't get stuck paying two separate deductibles. However, it's in your insurance company's best interest to view the damage as a separate claim. So you shouldn't be surprised if you encounter some resistance when trying to reopen a former claim.
Consider Alternative Homeowners Insurance Companies
If mold is a big concern for you, consider switching insurance providers to one that offers coverage. Not only will you obtain some coverage for mold, you could potentially lower your home insurance rates by switching insurers.
Want a quote for your Oklahoma homeowner’s insurance. Visit our website at www.ECIAGENCY.com or text/or call our office 405-373-2977.