When water damage is present in one’s home, one may not see what lies underneath. Numerous health hazards can come from mold that is left untreated. Mold could be present in one’s home, and the occupants may not even know this issue exists. Mold could present itself just by the mere fact of humidity, but picture a house being flooded, the mold is most likely to occur, especially if the water has not been drained properly. Mold not only damages a home, but it could also damage the health of each tenant.
People don’t usually worry about whether their homeowner’s policies cover mold damage until the damage is already done. If you are concerned about the potential for mold damage in your home, it is crucial to find out whether it would be covered under your current policy. As you will see, such policies are usually unclear about whether this type of damage is covered. Some insurance companies, like State Farm, don’t cover mold damage regardless of how it is caused; others minimize their risk by imposing limits on how much they will pay out for mold remediation. Read on to learn the ins and outs of mold damage coverage and homeowner’s insurance policies.
When is Mold Damage Covered By Insurance?
Don’t wait until a public adjuster is on their way over to find out whether or not mold damage is covered by your insurance policy. The vast majority of the time, such damage is only covered when it occurs as the result of a covered peril like water damage. For example, if your water heater breaks and floods the basement and mold damage is later discovered, it should be covered because water damage is typically covered under such circumstances.
Even if mold damage is covered in this way, however, it may not be covered entirely. Mold damage remediation costs an average of $15,000 to $30,000, and insurance companies have taken numerous steps to reduce their exposure to having to pay for these damages. Typically, they will only cover such damage up to a certain limit. Allstate, for example, provides coverage up to $5,000. If the damage exceeds this allotted amount, the homeowner may have to put in the rest of the money from their savings account. These are instances where mold damage could be recovered:
- Brutal weather
- Plumbing issues
- Leaky Roofs
Now, if floods cause mold, that may not be covered because, for the majority of homeowner’s insurance, floods are not covered. This is why many homeowners should now that additional coverage is needed in these cases.
When is Mold Damage Excluded from Coverage?
As any public adjuster can tell you, mold damage that occurs due to neglect or a lack of maintenance is not covered under homeowner’s insurance policies. If you notice a leak somewhere, put it on the backburner and notice mold later, for example, your policy most likely won’t pay for mold remediation because it would be considered as gradual damage; damage that happened over time, not suddenly.
Another time when mold damage is excluded is when it occurs due to regional flooding because damage from such flooding is excluded from standard insurance policies. It might still be covered if you have a separate flood insurance policy, but there are likely to be strict limits in place. If a home is not maintained as it should be, or an owner does not repair a problem that persists, they should not be surprised when mold sets-in and their insurance companies decide to deny their claim, for mold damage. These insurance companies will investigate the issue and will try to find every reason not to want to pay the policyholder. This is why every homeowner should maintain receipts and evidence that they have been keeping their homes up-to-date, and that if mold is present, it is not due them having been negligent, but it is due to exterior factors out of their control.
Molds Most Present and the Symptoms Associated with Them
Many people do not know that mold is present in more forms than one. The typical person sees black areas and knows that its mold, but there is much more to in. Properly treating a home would mean that one must understand the specific mold that is present in their homes. This way, a professional can address the mold and ensure that once it is treated, it does not come back again, like most molds due. A statistic that might be shocking is that only 100,000 types of molds have been identified, yet there are more than 1.5 million species all around the world. These are some forms of mold and their symptoms that would most likely be present within a house:
Aspergillus; Found in foods and in AC systems that cause allergies
Cladosporium; Typically grows on painted surfaces, toilets, and fiberglass air ducts. It has a blackish appearance.
Stachybotrys; This type of mold can cause a number of health problems like fever, fatigue, burning nasals, inflammation of the membranes, and even nosebleeds. This type of mold is usually found in areas with high humidity and on cellulose material, including, paper, wood, and cardboard.
Penicillin; This is the typical mold you see when there is a vegetable rotting or a piece of bread. It is present in foods, wallpaper, soil, grains, and vegetables that have passed their expiration date.
Because there may be many types of mold present, consulting a professional to determine which type is the first step to properly treating it. Children and seniors are especially susceptible to the effects of mold that could cause respiratory problems. Seeking immediate medical attention if suspicion of mold is present is a must.
Mold Growth in Various Types of Moisture
Mold can surface as a result of various water damage and moisture. These are some categories of moisture and damages that could create mold:
- Wet clothes being hung up; that water evaporates and creates a living environment for mold
- A body of water is near a home; because a house is so near to a body of water, the humidity inside that home is often higher than the typical household
- The Bathroom; Naturally, people shower with hot showers that create a lot of humidity. If these shows that not ventilated, the percentage of mold
- Presence of condensation; when something is cold, it condenses like pipelines. This creates an area of growth for mold
- Rain and humid temperature; Mold feeds off of humidity and rain
Knowing that mold feeds off of moisture is an indication that keeping places dry and free from humidity would be a great move in avoiding mold to arise.
Ways that Mold Can be Detected
To try and limit the amount of exposure and additional problems that may come from mold, trying to spot mold is an important part of that. There are times where mold is obvious like a blackish substance on the bathroom curtain, but other times, mold will not show visible signs. These are some ways that mold could be detected:
- Presence of musty or earthy smell
- Reveal color contrast on walls by flashing a light on it
- Check areas that have no ventilation or are cold like behind dressers or shelves
- Check the dust that comes out of a pillow by patting it with a spatula
- Check for sliminess or a slick feeling on surfaces
These simple, but yet effective ways can help prevent a lot of dangers. Mold will live off of humidity and damp areas. Reducing the living area of the mold can help it die off.
Ways That Can Prevent and Reduce the Appearance Of Mold
If there is no presence of moisture, mold cannot grow. This means that mold altogether can be prevented, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These are a few actions that could be taken that could prevent mold from appearing:
- use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms
- clean gutters regularly
- Avoid having clothing or paper in areas that are prone to humidity
- If there are any leaks or spills, attempt to dry it immediately
- keep the humidity in the house between 30 percent and 60 percent
- don’t install carpeting in areas that are prone to dampness
- bleach bathrooms often
- Open a window or turn on the ventilation system while taking a shower
- Have cold surfaces insulated
Ways That Mold Can be Removed in a Safe Manner
There are guidelines that should be followed when attempting to get rid of mold. If the mold is present in more than 10 square feet of your home, it is best to leave that to an industrial hygienist. These are some safety steps to take:
- When removing, place on rubber gloves, goggles, and long sleeves
- Place a respirator
- While cleaning up the mold, ventilate the room
- Use plastic sheets to separate the areas that have been infected with mold and those that have not
- Use airtight plastic bags to place the cleaning products that have been used to avoid further contamination
Mold could be cleaned up, but it is important to protect oneself when trying to remove it.
Statistics on Mold
Mold is a problem that has almost affect every homeowner and tenant. These are some facts and statistics that are tied with mold and mildew:
- Mycotoxins are released from mold, which can affect the brain, making depression tied to mold
- Pheonix and Dallas are the cities with the most amount of mold
- Mold has been linked to asthma issues. In fact, a study linked three specific molds to cause asthmatic problems in children
- A survey conducted on 216 patients with sinus found that 96% of them contained fungus
- The air inside a home could be more toxic than that outside
- Within the United States, there have been more than 1,000 types of mold found inside dwellings
Having mold in a home is a serious problem. It is not one that should just be brushed off because there has even been mold linked to human-related deaths. If mold is present, immediately take action.
Filing a Claim for Mold Damage
Since mold damage is typically only covered when it occurs as a result of another covered peril, you would typically file a claim for it alongside your claim for that peril. For example, if a pipe burst and caused mold to develop, mold remediation should automatically be included in the payout for your claim. If you discover mold well after a covered peril has occurred, you will have to provide your expert public adjuster with evidence that proves that the mold happened for that reason. An insurance company will try to make your mold claim into a gradual damage or say that you were negligent in not treating the issue of mold at an earlier stage. With all of that being said, it’s far easier to avoid mold entirely than to deal with it later, so keep the above tips in mind. Maintain proof, inspect your home, do not wait.
If any symptoms of mold are present, or if someone is suffering from sudden allergies and health conditions, it would be smart to call in a professional to evaluate your home, and if mold is found, then contacting a public adjuster to determine whether the mold can be compensated would be key.