That's gross! Why home insurance won't pay for disgusting problems

That's gross! Why home insurance won't pay for disgusting problems
By Margarette Burnette, - Last updated Oct. 19, 2010

If you're a homeowner with a yucky home-related issue, whether it involves bugs, critters or mold, you have a responsibility to get it corrected. But gross problems can be expensive to fix, and many people may be surprised to learn that home insurance often won't pay insurance claims for gross things - because they're considered a home-maintenance problem.

"Standard homeowner's policies are designed to provide coverage for disasters that are 'sudden and accidental,'" says Claire Wilkinson, vice president of global issues for the Insurance Information Institute, an insurance industry-funded organization. "A standard policy covers a wide range of perils, such as fire, storms and theft, but it is not designed to cover the cost of cleaning and maintaining a home."

Take mold for example...

Mold develops in areas of a house that have been wet for days, often because of a flood, burst pipe or everyday water issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold can grow around windows, drywall and upholstery, and it can cause or exacerbate a variety of respiratory health problems.

Due to health consequences, it's important to remove mold as quickly as possible. This means quickly repairing leaky faucets and pipes, washing hard surfaces with a bleach solution and removing items that can't be cleaned (such as carpet). Despite the hefty cost of mold removal, homeowners generally cannot file an insurance claim for the clean-up. Mold is not considered sudden or accidental, says Wilkinson, and is often specifically excluded in policies.

There is an exception: "If mold was the direct result of a covered peril, such as a burst pipe, there could be coverage for the cost of eliminating it," says Wilkinson.