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are water damage and mold covered?

Water, when filling our oceans, swimming pools, or parched mouths, can be our best friend. But when it seeps into our homes, good old H2O turns into a slippery enemy. Depending on the source, home insurance coverage can offer protection.

What's covered: water damage vs. flooding

When our homes start filling with water, most of us are more concerned with getting rid of the moisture — quickly! — than with tracking where it came from. Insurance-wise, however, the source of your unwanted lagoon is pretty crucial. The big distinction you have to make is between flooding and water damage.

What's considered a flood?

A flood typically involves external water rising onto your land, such as you might get from an overflowing river, tsunami, mudslide — even heavy rains. Damage caused by flooding is generally not covered by your home insurance policy; you need separate flood insurance coverage.

What's considered water damage?

Water damage, on the other hand, involves instances of water hitting your home before touching the outside ground — and is usually covered by homeowners insurance. Depending on your home policy, things like a roof leak, busted pipe, or faulty sump pump could all qualify.

Remember, because the distinction between flooding and water damage is so fine, it's always best to talk with your insurer after any incident. Even if your claim is flood-based and the immediate damage isn't covered, perils extending from the flood — like property theft or fire — might be.

Homeowners insurance and mold

One of the worst byproducts of water damage can be mold. Besides being potentially hazardous for your health and just plain gross, mold can reduce your home's value by discoloring the walls or ceiling, rotting wood or ductwork, or creating a foul odor. Ultimately, a happy home is a dry home.

Whether homeowners insurance covers mold, again, comes down to the source. For instance, mold caused by flooding or long-term neglect probably won't be covered. But if the mold is a result of a burst pipe or other covered peril, your home insurance coverage might be able to help repair damage and get rid of the pesky spores.

Dealing with mold

Luckily, you needn't rely only on your insurance. There are plenty of ways to prevent mold growth on your own.

How to prevent mold

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mold spores flat out cannot grow without moisture. Here are some mold prevention tips to keep your pad dry and fungus at bay:

  • Dry any spills or leaks within 48 hours
  • Clean gutters frequently
  • Keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (if you use a humidifier)
  • Activate bathroom vent or open a window while showering
  • Vent appliances that produce moisture (stove, dryer, etc.) and use fans when necessary
  • Insulate cold surfaces
  • Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting if possible
  • Don't store paper products or clothing in humid areas
  • Clean fridge drip pans regularly
  • Ensure rainwater flows away from the house

How to spot mold

Sometimes even if mildew has entered your home, it's not obvious. Here are a few tricks on how to spot mold:

  • Check for an earthy or musty odor
  • Angle a flashlight at the wall to reveal color contrast
  • Look behind shelves and dressers, or anywhere the air is cold and not ventilated
  • Pat pillows with a spatula to see what dust comes up
  • Check surfaces for a slick or slimy feel

How to safely remove mold

Keep in mind that for areas 10 square feet or larger, it's usually best to call an industrial hygienist. But if you do find mold in your home, follow these guidelines when getting rid of it:

  • Wear long sleeves, goggles, and rubber gloves
  • Use a respirator
  • Ventilate the room while cleaning
  • Separate infested area from the rest of house with plastic sheets
  • Place used cleaning items in airtight plastic bag

Water backup coverage from Esurance

In case water ever turns from friend to foe in your home, it helps to know someone's got your back. With a homeowners insurance policy from Esurance or our partner, you can consider taking advantage of water backup protection and get some much-needed assistance when facing an overflowing drain or busted sump pump.

Get started on your water damage coverage with a free homeowners quote in just minutes.

Related links

National Flood Insurance Program
Find important information on preparing for disasters and getting your flood insurance.

Flooding and your car
Learn how to protect your ride from flood damage and see how your car insurance can help.