Since mold happens often in Canada, a question we at Lane’s Insurance hear almost as often is if you can claim mold damage on your home insurance. Unfortunately, the short answer is that homeowners are never able to claim mold damage. Depending on how the mold developed, however, there are other avenues that can be taken.
If the mold in your home is the result of an insured peril such as sudden or accidental water damage, then you may be able to make a claim based on that. For example, if the mold is the result of flooding in your basement or a burst pipe, you should be able to make a claim. Water damage as the result of a leak is unlikely to be covered, as this is a home maintenance issue.
The best way to avoid mold is to avoid water damage altogether, which is the most common home insurance claim. Some ways to avoid water damage include adding in a back-flow valve to prevent water from seeping in through the sewer system, checking your appliances regularly, investigating leaks right away, reducing water pressure to help prevent leaky pipes, and inspecting regularly for cracks and leaks in the foundation.
I Have Mold … Now What Do I Do?
As mentioned, although you can’t claim mold damage, you can claim for water damage that is a named peril on your policy. Before you do that, though, consider whether the cost of the deductible will make the claim worthwhile. As most people carry a larger deductible on their home insurance, carefully assess the level of damage. Depending on its severity, you may be able to handle the clean up yourself.
Health Canada considers mold damage “small” if the area covered is less than one metre square. This amount of mold damage can be cleaned away by scrubbing the area with unscented soap, sponging with a damp, clean cloth and then drying very quickly. It’s very important to wear the proper safety gear, including a disposable N95 mask, safety glasses or goggles; and household rubber or disposable gloves.
Any amount of mold growth larger than one metre square requires the assistance of a certified mold technician, who will know exactly what to look for. A general rule is that if the mold has gotten underneath paint or wallpaper, the drywall should be removed. Painting over the mold will not kill it. The technician will be able to tell you what sort of restoration and repairs will be needed.
What is Mold, Anyway?
Mold is a common issue in Canadian homes, as many structures just don’t have the proper ventilation to allow for moisture to escape. Mold can grow anywhere it’s damp, which means anywhere in your home there has been leaks, spills, and floods is at risk. Common places for mold to grow include underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, underneath or behind refrigerators, behind walls that house plumbing (such as where a shower head has been installed), around air conditioning units, around leaky windows, in basements that have experienced flooding, and in long exterior walls without proper insulation.
According to Health Canada, mold is any kind of fungus that grows on a damp surface. It can be a number of different colours, and will usually look like a stain of some sort. Sometimes you will notice a musty odour, or something that smells kind of like mushrooms. Mold is dangerous indoors as it gives off microscopic spores that can be inhaled, which is hazardous to health. Breathing in mold spores can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, making it difficult to breathe. The symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions may worsen, and mold severely affects those with existing respiratory conditions. It can be especially harmful for children and those with suppressed immune systems.
Additional Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Mold
Keeping your home dry, well-ventilated, and sealed from the elements is the best way to prevent mold. Additional ways include:
- Using dehumidifiers to reduce humidity
- Ensuring exhaust fans are operating properly
- Ensuring attics are insulated properly
- Ensuring good air flow throughout your home
- Ensuring soffits are not blocked
Let us Review Your Home Insurance
Are you curious if you are covered for mold or would like to find out what types of water damage are included in your policy? Give the experienced insurance brokers at Lane’s a call at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton, or greater Alberta offices to find out.