Mold, Termites and Your Home Insurance

By Samantha Alexander

Nothing’s worse than finding unwanted visitors in your home. A surprise appearance by a spider is enough to make you want to move out altogether. However, some house guests are even worse – you can’t crush them or spray them to get rid of them. Two chief culprits: mold and termites.

Silent intruders such as these can be costly to fix – not to mention a major headache to deal with. Even though standard home insurance policies cover a wide variety of perils, you may not have adequate protection for damage from certain pests.

While you should review your specific policy, here’s a quick breakdown of how mold, termites and other pests typically are covered (or not covered) by standard home insurance policies.

When mold moves in

It goes without saying that mold is not something you want in your home. Even in the most well-kept home, there’s often a little bit of mold somewhere. The problem is when mold is allowed to grow and spread unnoticed. Severe indoor mold infestations can lead to serious health problems, and should be addressed immediately.

Because it costs so much to get rid of mold and repair the damage it causes, some homeowners may hope to rely on their home insurance policy for help. This is where things get tricky. First, it’s important to know what causes mold.

Mold thrives on moisture, which means humid and damp areas are vulnerable. Mold spores can enter your home through doors and windows or can grow after a leak occurs. If the mold in your home is caused by a covered peril such as a burst pipe or leaky roof, repairing the damage it creates could be covered through your home insurance policy.

There’s a ‘but’ coming, of course: Most policies include certain mold exclusions. Many standard policies won’t offer coverage for mold that arises from poor maintenance, chronic or repeated water leaks, or failure to properly ventilate rooms.

There’s another circumstance in which damage from mold is not covered: when it’s caused by flooding from rising waters such as lakes, rivers or oceans. Flooding isn’t covered by standard home insurance, and neither is mold caused by flooding. For that, you’ll need a separate flood policy. Learn more at FloodSmart.gov, the website for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Curious about your level of mold coverage? Call your home insurance company and find out what your policy says. Many carriers offer add-on coverage for extra protection.

The truth about termites

Every homeowner, at one point or another, has wondered if termites are quietly eating away at the unseen parts of his or her home. It’s a very real fear. Termites can destroy the structural integrity of your home, if they go unnoticed. Unfortunately, termite infestation is something that isn’t often covered by standard home insurance policies.

Each year, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage, according to the National Pest Management Association. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to prevent a termite takeover from happening to you.

Termite barriers, bait and monitoring systems, and soil treatment are all effective methods of preventing termites on your property. If you’re serious about prevention, you may even want to consider hiring a professional to check your property annually – many mortgage lenders will require this, in fact.

In addition to mold and termites, other unwanted visitors can wreak havoc on your home, including bed bugs and rodents. Most of the time, damage caused by or removal of these pests is not covered by standard home and renters insurance policies. The best way to avoid a costly run-in with a pest is by maintaining your home and conducting regular home maintenance checks. If you see a problem, deal with it before it gets out of control.

Termite damage typically isn’t covered, while mold can be, but only under specific circumstances. Home insurance, in general, is no substitute for proper home maintenance.

All homeowners should familiarize themselves with their insurance policy. If you have questions about your coverage or policy limits, a licensed agent is the best resource.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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