News and Updates

Does home insurance cover mould damage?

Mould is a common enemy of Canadian homeowners. It poses a severe health risk and can significantly damage your home, making it expensive to repair. As a homeowner, understanding how to purify your indoor air and keep your family and visitors healthy is essential. For these reasons, you need to care about mould, know how to manage it, and understand how your coverage relates to mould damage.
What is mould?
Mould is the accepted term for any fungus that grows in damp areas caused by leaks, flooding, and high humidity1. It often looks like a stain and comes in various colours, but in some cases, it may not be visible1. When mould finds a damp place to grow, it can contribute to poor indoor air quality and pose a health hazard1.
Health risks
People living with mould and damp conditions are more likely to experience the following1:

  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation

  • Coughing and phlegm build-up

  • Wheezing and shortness of breath

  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

See a doctor or health professional if you have any of these symptoms and suspect they are from mould.
How to determine if you have mould
Here are some ways you can identify the presence of mould in your home2:

  • Do a walk-through of all rooms, including the attic, basement, and any storage spaces, to look for signs of mould and excessive moisture, such as stains, discolouration, peeling paint, wrinkled wallpaper, cracked plaster, warped wood, etc.

  • If you smell a strong, musty, earthy odour, but can’t see any obvious signs of water damage or mould, consider consulting a professional about hidden mould in your walls, ceilings, or floors.

  • If you notice a lot of condensation on windows or pipes, know that it can build up and become an issue later.

Not all mould is simple to find, but if you pay attention to the visible signs or odours, you can catch the problem early. Immediate action is vital since mould will grow in a damp area within 48 hours2.
How to prevent mould
While you cannot necessarily mould-proof your home, there are some steps you can take to proactively prevent it from growing2:

  • Address common problem areas like sinks, showers, tubs, windows, attics, and basements by removing excessive moisture build-up and controlling the relative humidity (between 30% during colder months and 50% during warmer months).

  • Ensure your home is adequately ventilated by using an exhaust fan in the bathroom when bathing and a kitchen range hood when cooking. Maintain your exhaust fans so there is good air movement to the outside.

  • Inspect that your gutters and downspouts are in working order and that groundwater flows away from your property with correct grading.

What if there is mould in your home?

  • Wear safety glasses or goggles, a mask, and gloves to evaluate and clean up the mould.

  • Fix the cause within 48 hours.

  • Any porous materials that cannot be appropriately cleaned must be discarded.

  • Any non-porous materials should be cleaned using a cloth with unscented soap and water and then dried completely – do not use bleach.

  • You should hire a qualified professional if the mouldy area is larger than three square metres (3 m2), if the mould comes back after cleaning, if the mould is near your HVAC unit and could have entered the system, or if the mould is from contaminated water.

Mould damage and home insurance
While mould from severe water accidents such as burst pipes, sewer back-up, or overland water is commonly covered, it’s not unusual for mould-related insurance claims to be rejected if the mould has existed for some time. This can be viewed as neglecting home maintenance and will not be insured. Depending on your policy, you may have water and mould protection coverage limits. If repairs exceed the loss covered by your policy, you will have to pay out of pocket after the deductible is paid.
Since mould remediation can be expensive, it’s crucial that you address the water and mould damage as soon as possible. The longer you leave the issue, the more it will spread and the more difficult it will be to remedy. Ensure you know what is and is not covered in your policy, and consider enhancing your protection with additional coverage for water.
If you are interested in a home insurance quote, connect with an OTIP broker today at 1-888-892-4935. If you have questions about your current home insurance coverage, contact us at 1-833-494-0090.

  1. Government of Canada – Mould

  2. Government of Canada – Guide to addressing moisture and mould indoors

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