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Water Damage, Mold and Homeowners' Insurance
By Sarah Anderson
So your house has had water damage caused by a burst pipe, a roof leak or by torrential rains. You are hoping that your homeowners' insurance policy will cover the damage. Usually, the way you describe the damage to your insurance adjuster will determine the outcome of your claim. It is, therefore, important to know more about mold and water damage first and their implications to insurance policies.
Molds are microscopic organisms belonging to the fungi group. They are considered natural decomposers and require moisture to grow and survive. Molds, if allowed to grow inside the home, can damage your possessions and can cause a number of health problems for you and your family.
Health problems that are associated with mold growth may include skin allergies, allergic reactions within the respiratory system such as asthma or allergic rhinitis. (Learn more about the hazards of mold.)
Mold and Your Insurance Policy
If your home is affected by water damage, you must dry it out immediately to prevent the growth of mold. You should immediately call your insurance carrier and report the water emergency. You should report the water damage immediately with 24 hours so that the drying and restoration process can start immediately. It is likely that the insurance adjuster will want to find out what caused the water crisis to assess if the water damage is covered by your homeowners' insurance policy.
Insurance companies typically cover mold and water damage to homes if it is directly related to an insured loss. The direct cause of the water damage should be properly identified. Insurance companies will also send out an insurance adjuster to confirm your reports and to assess if the damaged areas or the mold growth is pre-existing.
If the insurance adjuster determines that the damage and mold growth in your home is pre-existing, then the insurance company will not cover the damage and your claim will be declined. Furthermore, the insurance adjuster may assess that the mold growth is caused by other factors besides the one that you reported. Other factors of mold growth may be caused by lack of maintenance or poor ventilation. If this is the case, the insurance company will not cover the cost of mold remediation.
Insurance policies are also designed to cover only the cost of cleaning up the water damage and restoring the wet items to their original, pre-loss condition. A homeowners' insurance policy may or may not pay for the cost of repairing the cause of the water leak depending on different factors.
For example, if the attic was soaked by water because of a roof leak, the insurance company will cover the cost of drying the attic and the items inside it. It will not, however, cover the cost of repairing the roof leak since this is considered to be a maintenance cost that should be shouldered by the homeowner.
If the water damage is covered by your insurance policy, hire a contractor to clean up your home and make repairs as needed. Make sure that the contractor you choose is properly trained and equipped to handle water damage and mold remediation.