Renters insurance may cover mold, but that's not always the case. Renters insurance covers mold damage to your personal property if the mold is caused by a covered peril in your policy.
This article will cover:
What is mold?
Mold is caused by spores that thrive in excess water or other collected moisture in a home. In dwellings, it tends to be most prevalent in the bathroom, but mold can also occur in the basement if your rental house has one.
If you rent an apartment with inadequate ventilation or a shared ventilation system, you run a risk of mold infestation as well. Apartments with shared ventilation are at high risk. Mold can be airborne and easily spread to other apartments in your building, putting your neighbors at risk.
Is mold covered by renters insurance?
The coverage renters insurance provides for mold damage in a rental is highly conditional. The key criteria that determines whether or not your renters insurance policy covers a mold damage claim is what causes the mold. Most renters insurance only covers mold damage if an event listed in your policy causes it.
Your renters insurance may cover the mold remediation and floor or wall repair, but it will probably not replace the broken appliance that caused the mold.
Most likely, there will be a cap on the amount your insurer pays toward the mold damage. Some insurance companies offer optional riders if you want to increase your coverage for mold.
When is mold damage covered?
Your renters insurance should pay for repairs and replacement of belongings that mold damages if the source of the mold damage is listed as a covered peril in your policy.
Examples of covered mold damage include:
- Damage from internal leaks in the walls
- Water leakage after wind or fire damage
- Acts of vandalism
Depending on the specifics of your renters insurance policy, mold coverage may also include damage caused by fungus growth, bacteria, and both wet and dry rot. The full scope of what mold damage includes should be listed as part of the "accidental discharge or overflow of water and steam" portion of your renters insurance policy.
If you have to relocate while the mold damage is being removed from your rental unit or home, your renters insurance may cover additional living expenses (ALE). ALE can help cover rent costs, restaurant meals, laundry and extra commuting costs within the limits of your renters insurance policy until you can move back into your home.
When is mold damage not covered?
It's likely your renters insurance policy won't cover mold damage in these situations:
- Mold damage from an uncovered peril
- Mold due to negligence
- Mold caused by water backup
Your renters insurance policy also won't cover mold caused by negligent home care or maintenance. For example, if mold damage to a covered system or appliance could have been avoided with typical home maintenance, it will be excluded.
Mold damage caused by flooding and sewer backups
Flooding and sewer backups are usually not covered under a standard renters insurance policy, so mold damage from such events would likely be excluded as well. However, some renters insurance companies offer flood insurance. Also, you may be able to get sewer backup coverage as an add-on endorsement to your policy.
Both flooding and sewer backup can be expensive problems to fix, and renters insurance premiums would also be incredibly expensive if these perils were part of standard coverage. These additional coverage options are often offered to control the rates of your renters insurance while still being able to offer some coverage for flood or sewer backup. Even then, endorsements have maximum limits on how much mold damage they'll cover.
Is your landlord responsible for mold damage?
Laws for landlord responsibilities regarding mold aren't common at either the state or federal levels. This is largely because the health impacts of mold are still considered unclear.
Despite the vagueness of mold remediation on the legal level, they're a bit more clear-cut in terms of insurance. Under renters rights, your landlord is responsible for mold problems within the structure of your rental apartment, house or condo, such as on the walls, ceiling and floor.
If a mold bloom occurs in any of these areas and damages your belongings, you will probably have to go through your landlord's insurance to file a claim and get reimbursed for the damage. Should your landlord choose not to repair mold damage they're responsible for, you may have to use legal recourse.
When you're responsible for mold damage
If mold occurs from a source not within the structure of the building, you may be responsible for rectifying it. The best way to avoid this is to keep areas where moisture can collect, like your bathroom, dry and clean.
A common repair process for mold damage is remediation. According to Law Insider, mold remediation is defined as "the removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter that was not purposely grown at that location." The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates mold remediation.
According to the EPA, you can most likely handle a mold problem yourself if the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet. While mold remediation can be costly if a professional is needed, the cost of the mold spreading if not taken care of correctly may be vastly higher. Your renters insurance should cover the cost of remediation within your policy limits if the mold is due to a covered peril.
Disputing a mold claim denial
If your mold claim gets denied, you can appeal it. Gather all documents related to the mold damage, such as photos of it, and contact your adjuster to let them know of any errors in your claims denial statement.
How to prevent mold in rental
You can prevent and control mold in your rental by taking these preventive steps.
- Keep your rental dry.
- Fix any plumbing leaks.
- Remove wet carpets or furniture right away.
- Monitor humidity levels and keep it low (consider purchasing a hygrometer, or humidity monitor, for this purpose).
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