If you find yourself in need of mold remediation, one of the first things you’re likely to wonder is who’s going to pay for it.
In reality, the answer is that it depends on a number of factors.
Depending on the specifics of the mold growth and what caused it, the burden of paying for the mold remediation could fall on you, your homeowner’s insurance, or if you’re a renter, your landlord.
So, how do you determine who will be covering the bill in your specific situation?
When Insurance Covers Mold Remediation
If you’re a homeowner and have a significant mold problem, it’s always a good first move to see if your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the remediation.
However, when you go that route, the underwriters for your insurance provider will want some specific information about the mold problem.
Primarily, they’ll want to know exactly what caused the mold problem to develop.
As a general rule, if the mold growth in your home was caused by a covered peril or any event that’s protected by your policy, then your mold remediation will likely be covered by insurance.
For example, if there’s flooding in your local area and it causes water damage to your home, that water damage may lead to a significant mold issue.
As long as flood protection is covered under your insurance policy, then your provider will have to help you with the remediation costs.
Listed below are a few other examples of when your homeowner’s insurance will likely foot the bill for solving your household mold problem.
- Mold growth resulting from a broken water heater
- Mold growth resulting from a burst or frozen pipe
- Mold growth caused by water damage from extinguishing a fire
- Mold growth resulting from a leaking HVAC appliance
It’s important to keep in mind that many insurance policies have limits on how much they’ll pay out for mold remediation. So, even if your claim gets accepted, you may still end up having to deal with a portion of the overall cost.
When Insurance Doesn’t Cover Mold Remediation
While homeowner’s insurance will often come through to help with mold remediation costs, it isn’t an automatic guarantee by any means.
For obvious reasons, insurance companies will usually do everything in their power to avoid paying out any more money than they must, and most will insurance providers will scrutinize and argue against every claim they receive.
Typically, the situations in which significant mold growth was caused by neglect or a lack of home upkeep are the situations in which your homeowner’s insurance will leave you high and dry.
With something like a household fire or an appliance malfunction, you really don’t have much control over preventing mold growth. In those cases, you should be able to count on your insurance.
But, if you let the conditions in your home gradually develop into an optimal climate for mold growth, you’ll likely end up having to pay for the remediation yourself.
A handful of situations in which many homeowner’s insurance providers will not cover the cost of remediation are:
- Use of water beds if they’re specifically not covered
- Neglectful use of water in a home (that kiddie pool on the second floor probably needs to go)
- Improperly sealed doors or windows allowing high levels of moisture into your home
- A room, such as the kitchen or bathroom, being poorly ventilated and humid
- A leaky fixture going unrepaired
- Sump pump failure causing significant water backup (unless you have it specially added to your policy)
Avenues of Recourse
However, don’t take these examples as a clear “no” to your possible coverage.
- Read the portions of your insurance policy(ies) that relate to mold and water damage.
- Read the portions of your lease that relate to the reporting and repair of water damage, and to mold and mildew removal/remediation.
- Contact a public adjuster who can not only better help you determine whether insurance is likely to cover it, but who will also act on your behalf in communicating with your insurance company. (Public adjusters are paid a portion of the total coverage that they secure for clients, so it’s wise to weigh your options before hiring one, including considering the fact that fighting your own mold remediation alone and for the first time may net you less than you would get had you hired an experienced adjuster.)
If you live in a leased apartment and are faced with a significant mold problem, contacting local media, contacting a public adjuster, and considering filing a lawsuit are two steps you can resort to where others have failed.
If you truly believe that the extent of mold growth (or a landlord’s failure to act quickly in resolving it) warrants a lawsuit, you should immediately start taking photographs of damage in all its various progressions—leaks, water stains, burst pipes, containment efforts, visible mold growth, etc.—and start saving copies of all correspondence, receipts, medical or environmental tests, and any and all other evidence that helps to convey: a) the extent of your damages, and b) the lengths you had to go to resolve the situation.
In many homeowner’s insurance policies, events as significant as flooding will be completely left out, so it’s important when purchasing your policy that you’re aware of what is and isn’t covered.
Mold remediation, in most cases, is pretty expensive, so it’s always wise to be diligent about the state of your home and promptly address water damage whenever it occurs.
Renters and Mold Remediation Costs
When it comes to paying for mold remediation, things are a bit different for those who rent their homes.
Generally speaking, your renter’s insurance will not pay for any mold removal or remediation services.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to pay for it yourself; in certain situations, the responsibility will fall on your landlord.
Granted, the laws vary from state to state, but typically, landlords are responsible for the maintenance of their apartments or rental homes. This includes tasks like keeping the roofing intact, keeping the pipes from leaking, etc.
So, if your rental property develops a mold problem due to water leaking from the roof, pipes, or one of your appliances, there’s a high likelihood that the burden of paying for remediation will land with your landlord.
This isn’t a 100% guarantee, and you’ll need to check your state’s laws and your rental agreement.
That said, renters are usually responsible for the basic upkeep of their homes.
So, if your rental property’s mold problem was caused because you spilled liquid and let it linger, left the windows open during a rainstorm, or caused the toilet to overflow by flushing something improper, you may end up having to pay for the remediation yourself.
Even in these circumstances, you can always request that your landlord cover it, but you probably shouldn’t get your hopes up.
Ultimately, while there are exceptions to every rule, the answer to “who pays for mold remediation?” is relatively simple.
More often than not, if the mold growth wasn’t a direct result of neglect, your homeowner’s insurance or landlord will pay for some or all of it.
But, if mold showed up and multiplied because of your neglect or error—for instance, if you went left the window open while out on vacation—some or all of the remediation costs may end up being paid by you.
Tenants Can’t Bypass a Landlord to Pay for Mold Remediation
Unfortunately, even if you are experiencing a problem with mold in an apartment or home that you’re renting, no qualified or reputable mold remediation company will do work on the property without clearance from your landlord or the building’s owner.
This can put tenants in a difficult position of living in what they feel are unhygienic or even dangerous conditions, and yet not being able to do much about it due to a landlord’s different perspective on mold and whether it presents an actual danger.
But neither paint nor bleach is a solution to mold. They don’t just mask a mold problem, they actually make it worse.
In many of these instances, a tenant’s choices are usually limited to either continuing to appeal to a landlord’s senses, or filing a lawsuit if conditions warrant it.
While it can be difficult to deal with some landlords, people suffering from mold exposure in the home or apartment should persist until a resolution is reached and the mold is properly remediated.