What's that smell? Defending yourself against household mold
Mold and fungi have been growing in nature for millions of years, but only in the past decade have mold-related problems come to the forefront of people's minds -- and pocketbooks.
Here's what homeowners need to know about mold: If you discover a mold infestation in your home, your insurance policy will generally not cover the cost of removing the mold or repairing any damage caused by it. The way the insurance company sees it, mold is a maintenance problem, just like termites or a leaky toilet tank gasket. Your homeowner's insurance is designed to protect you against sudden and accidental losses; mold problems do not fit this definition.
There are, of course, exceptions. Some insurers do provide some mold remediation coverage when the mold is a result of water damage that is covered under your policy. It's important to carefully review the language in your homeowner's insurance policy, or contact our expert agents at Purves & Associates who can help you understand, in detail, how your policy applies to mold-related problems.
In one case, Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Yates, the insured homeowners sued to recover the costs to repair mold damage in their home, because they thought it was covered under their "all-risks" policy. They discovered that the joists, seals, and subflooring of their house had almost completely rotted away as a result of air trapped between the crawl space, the subfloor, and the seals. The trapped air was then chilled by air conditioning, and the resulting condensation caused the rotting. The court held that an exclusion in their policy for "deterioration, rot, mold or other fungi and dampness of atmosphere" applied, and thus their insurer was not responsible for paying out the costs to repair the home.
The best approach for homeowners to prevent mold is to take reasonable precautions. Kiplinger's suggests: "The first, and best, defense against household mold is to control moisture and clean up water leaks right away... Use your home's exhaust fans routinely, especially in the bathroom, as part of a diligent effort to get moisture out of your house."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that indoor humidity should be kept between 30 to 60 percent, which can be achieved by venting bathrooms and dryers to the outside of the house, using air conditioners and de-humidifiers, increasing ventilation, and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.