Many homeowners in Canada worry about mould. Beyond the detrimental effects that the presence of mould in a home can have on your health, the process of removing mould can be expensive. It’s no wonder that many Canadians want to know whether home insurance covers mould. Continue reading to learn more about home insurance and mould, including if mould damage and removal are covered by property insurance and what to do if you suspect mould in your home.
Mould in homes
To understand why so many homeowners are concerned about mould, let’s first dive into what mould is. Mould is a general name for a type of fungal growth that thrives in damp environments. It is part of the fungi family, though not all fungi form moulds. While mould is natural and can be found all over the world, it becomes problematic when it grows inside buildings. This is due to the health dangers that it poses to humans. When mould grows inside your home, it may release harmful toxins into the air known as mycotoxins. In turn, mycotoxins create a variety of allergic responses or hypersensitivity to certain diseases. Beyond the threat to human health, mould can also result in physical damage to your home. For instance, it can cause rotting wood, which could impact everything from your drywall and floors to your carpets.
The most common types of mould found in homes
Thousands of types of mould exist. Therefore, it can be difficult to know what type of mould you’re dealing with. However, knowing what type of mould is in your home can be helpful, especially when trying to eliminate it. To provide some insight into this topic, we must first define the three main categories of mould:
- Allergenic: This type of mould is non-toxic but can trigger allergic reactions.
- Pathogenic: This type of mould can trigger illnesses in humans, especially in humans with weakened immune systems.
- Toxigenic: This is the most dangerous type of mould. It can cause serious illness and may even be lethal in extreme cases.
There are thousands of different types of mould. Some thrive inside the home more than others. Knowing this, the following is a list of the most common types of household mould in Canada:
- Stachybotrys: Also known as black mould, stachybotrys is typically found in damp areas in and around ventilation systems since they thrive when there is excess moisture and a lack of indoor air quality.
- Alternaria: Alternaria is a type of allergenic mould that also grows in damp places inside your home. The most typical places you will find alternaria are in showers, under sinks (especially leaky ones), and at the bottom of windows.
- Aspergillus: Aspergillus is most commonly found on dust, powdery food items, or construction materials that have suffered water damage, like drywall.
- Penicillium: Penicillium is a type of mould known for its bluish-green hue and it can lead to allergies and trigger asthma.
- Cladosporium: Lastly, cladosporium, unlike many other types of mould, can grow in either warm or cool areas. It can also grow on both fabric or wood surfaces.
Major health hazards associated with mould growth
As you’ve probably heard, mould can be hazardous to the health of humans. High levels of mould in your home and the presence of mould for prolonged periods can cause serious illness. In extreme cases, it could even lead to death, especially in someone with a pre-existing allergy or medical condition. It’s also worth noting that people of all ages can be impacted by mould, though certain people - namely, infants, the elderly, and people with respiratory diseases, may be at greater risk. Ultimately, it’s vital to understand the health symptoms that the presence of mould can cause in humans. The following is a list of symptoms to look out for:
- Runny nose
- Sinus congestion
- Throat irritation
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Tightness in your chest
- Skin and eye irritation
- Flaring up of respiratory issues like asthma
If you have reason to believe there is mould in your home, and you or your family members have started experiencing any of the symptoms above, contact your doctor as soon as possible. In addition, if there is no indication of mould in your home but members of your family are feeling sick with no apparent explanation, it may be worthwhile to contact both a doctor and a mould specialist to assess your home.
Where to look for mould in your home
Whether you suspect mould growth in your home or not, we recommend regularly checking the following locations to ensure your home is mould-free. By checking these spots frequently, you can also catch any mould growth early and have it removed before it causes further damage to your home and your health. The following is a list of the most common areas that mould grows both inside and outside homes:
- Outdoor stairwells
When checking for mould, be sure to pay special attention to areas where moisture might be present, such as underneath sinks, near HVAC units, on shower tiles, in bathtubs, around toilets, or in walls or ceilings that have suffered from water damage.
How to identify mould in your home
If you fail to maintain your home, which includes taking steps for home flooding prevention, odds are that you will have mould. To identify mould in your home, look for visible signs of mould in areas where it frequently grows. You can find a list of these areas above, but they usually include the bathroom, kitchen, basement, attic, garage, and outdoors on the roof, underneath siding, and in stairwells. When inspecting these areas, take care to check the floors, windows, walls, carpets, and underneath appliances and fixtures like sinks or toilets. If you have dealt with leaks or water damage in your home in the past, make sure to check these areas too. Note that mould can take on a variety of colours, ranging from pink and yellow to red, white, orange, and purple. However, it is most commonly blue, green, black, or grey. Beyond looking for visible mould in your home, you can also use your power of smell to detect mould. If you notice a damp, earthy smell inside your home, chances are mould is present. The presence of condensation, especially on glass or metal, can also be a sign that mould is nearby. Ultimately, if you are struggling to determine whether there is mould in your home, contact a professional as soon as possible. They can schedule a visit and inspect all areas of your home to confirm or deny the presence of mould.
Tips for preventing mould growth
Although you can never guarantee that you won’t find mould in your home, there are some steps you can take to avoid it:
Hire a professional
First, hire a professional to inspect your home annually. Regular home inspections will ensure that if there is a problem, you catch it early. A professional will also know the best, safest way to remove any mould growths in your home and clean up afterward.
Keep an eye on problem areas
As listed above, there are several areas in a home that are more prone to mould growth than others. Think of areas with excess moisture, like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Knowing this, make sure to keep a close eye on window sills, sinks, tubes, HVAC units, and pipes.
Make sure your home has adequate ventilation
A properly ventilated home can reduce the chances of mould. A few ways to increase ventilation in your home are to turn on fans in the kitchen and bathroom when cooking or showering and to open windows or use indoor fans throughout the day.
Maintain ideal humidity levels in your home
Homes that are too humid can be a breeding ground for mould. Therefore, we recommend keeping humidity to a minimum through the use of a dehumidifier. This is especially important in the summertime when humidity levels rise in many parts of the country. A dehumidifier will remove excess moisture in the air, reducing the odds of mould growth.
Properly clean your roof and gutters
Mould is known to grow under old roof shingles and in the gutters of your home. However, there is a way to prevent this, and that’s by keeping both clean. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear and in good condition. In addition, make any necessary repairs or replacements to your roof as soon as you notice any damage. Otherwise, water can get trapped and lead to mould.
Clean HVAC units
HVAC units, especially air conditioners, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers, may be prone to mould. So if you have any of these systems in your home, take care to clean and disinfect them regularly.
What you need to know about home insurance coverage and mould growth
Now that you know a little more about how mould grows in homes and how to prevent it, let’s dive into the topic of home insurance coverage and mould growth. At this point, you’re probably wondering what happens if you find mould damage in your home. Given how expensive mould removal can be, it’s important to understand whether your home insurance policy will cover it.
Ultimately, whether mould is covered by your policy depends on several factors, including the circumstances surrounding the mould and the coverage included with your policy. If your policy includes sewer backup coverage, and the mould was caused by a sewer backup, then the cost of mould removal will likely be covered. However, if the mould has been present for a long time and was the result of a lack of proper maintenance, your insurance company could reject your claim. Further, even if mould removal is covered in your policy, it will be subject to your coverage limits. If the cost of removal is higher than your coverage limit, you will likely have to pay at least a portion of it out of pocket.
When home insurance does cover mould damage
Your home insurance policy may cover mould damage if the cause of the damage was a named peril in your policy. For example, if a major storm results in water damage to your basement, which in turn, leads to mould growth, you will likely receive compensation for the damage under the dwelling coverage or contents coverage portion of your policy. Similarly, if you have sewer backup coverage and it is a sewer backup that leads to the mould, or overland water coverage, and it is rapid snow melt, overflow from a nearby body of water, or another covered risk that causes the mould, your insurer will also reimburse you. A few types of home insurance that may cover mould include the following:
Dwelling coverage protects policyholders against damage to their homes caused by insured perils. If an insured peril was the cause of the damage that led to mould growth in your home, then dwelling coverage could be claimed under your policy. The most common perils that dwelling coverage insures against include:
- Car / aircraft impact
- Falling objects
Please note that dwelling coverage does not cover any detached structures on your property. You will need to add other structures coverage to your home insurance policy if you would like any additional structures to be covered. Therefore, if mould is found in any detached structures on your property, even if the mould growth was caused by a named peril in your policy, your insurer likely will not pay for it.
Overland water coverage
Overland water coverage is a type of flooding coverage, and since water damage is often the culprit behind mould, this type of home insurance can protect you against mould damage. Specifically, overland water coverage comes into play in the event that your property suffers water damage that is caused by a nearby lake/river, overflow, heavy rain, or rapid snow melt. If the cause of the water damage and the subsequent mould problem is any of the aforementioned risks, your insurance coverage may reimburse you for the cost of mould removal.
Sewer backup coverage
Sewer backup coverage is another type of home insurance that may cover mould damage since sewer backups can lead to mould growth on your property. A sewer backup occurs when wastewater or sewage backs up and comes out of the sinks or faucets in your home. A sewer backup can cause extensive damage, and if left untreated, can result in a mould problem. But if you have sewer backup coverage in your home insurance policy, you may be covered for the cost of any necessary repairs, replacements, or mould removal relating to the incident.
When home insurance doesn’t cover mould damage
Home insurance is unlikely to cover the cost of mould damage or removal if the mould growth was caused by a lack of proper home maintenance or upkeep on behalf of the policyholder. Please note that home insurance typically does not cover mould infestations in homes. This is because, if your mould problem has grown to the point of being a mould infestation, it is likely the result of a lack of maintenance, which an insurance company considers the homeowner's responsibility. For example, if you noticed a leaky faucet in your bathroom and it caused mould to grow underneath the sink, but you refused to fix the leaky pipe, your claim would likely be denied, leaving you to deal with the financial fallout.
Will a mould claim increase my home insurance premium?
Depending on the type of claim, the number of mould claims made, and the cause of mould growth in your home, you could see an insurance premium increase. Ultimately, the more home insurance claims you make, no matter what types of claims they are, the more likely it is that your premium will increase. Therefore, it’s best to carefully assess the situation or speak with a broker about it before filing a claim with your provider.
Remember that where there are leaks or moisture, mould is likely not far behind. Therefore, if you detect any water damage in your home, even minimal water damage, it’s worth inspecting the area for mould. Mould removal can be expensive, and the more extensive the damage, the higher the cost. This means that if you fail to take care of the issue promptly, you could end up paying a lot more to fix the damage. In addition, the longer you leave it, the higher the risk that your insurance company will reject your claim.
To find out if your current home insurance policy covers mould removal or mould damage, contact an insurance broker at BrokerLink. A BrokerLink insurance advisor can review your policy and confirm what it includes and excludes. If your existing plan does not cover mould removal, BrokerLink can also help you with changing house insurance until you find a policy that includes it.
Contact BrokerLink to learn more about home insurance and mould damage in Canada
Finding mould in your home is a worst-case scenario for many Canadian homeowners. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent the growth of mould in your home, such as by regularly inspecting and properly maintaining your home. In addition, there is a way that you can mitigate the financial impact of a mould problem and that is through home insurance. A BrokerLink insurance advisor would be pleased to discuss home insurance and mould damage in greater detail. Get in touch today if you still have questions about whether home insurance covers mould in Canada. A BrokerLink home insurance specialist can break down exactly what your policy includes and excludes, as well as give you advice on how to save money on home insurance, such as through home insurance tax deductibles. A broker can also review your policy to ensure it meets your needs, and if it doesn’t they can recommend a different one, like high-value home insurance. Contact BrokerLink today to get started with a free home insurance quote. We can be reached by phone, email, or in person at one of our 200+ branches across Canada.
Get a home insurance quote [phone]
FAQ on homeowners insurance and mould damage coverage
Does renters insurance cover mould damage?
Tenant insurance, also known as renters insurance, may cover mould damage, though it depends on the circumstances of the incident. For example, if the mould growth was the result of an accident caused by an insured peril, your insurer is likely to compensate you for the cost of mould removal. However, if the mould was caused by negligence or lack of maintenance on behalf of the renter, your claim is likely to be denied. To learn more about how tenant insurance works and what it does and doesn’t cover, check out this tenant insurance guide
. In addition, if you suspect the presence of mould in your leased home, notify your landlord as soon as possible.
Does homeowner’s insurance cover mould damage?
Homeowner’s insurance may cover mould damage in specific circumstances. To find out if your current home insurance plan will compensate you for the cost of mould damage or removal, contact an insurance broker. A broker can explain how mould damage coverage works and even explain the difference between home insurance vs. homeowners insurance
If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.