Does Flood Insurance Cover Mold?
As a result of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, many homeowners that had flood damage have had extensive and on-going mold issues. Under the NFIP Dwelling Policy, coverage is excluded for water, moisture, mildew, or mold damage caused by the policyholder’s failure to inspect and maintain the insured property after the flood waters recede. Section V. Exclusions, D.4.b.(3), of the of the standard NFIP dwelling policy specifically states that it does not insure for direct physical loss caused directly or indirectly by water, moisture, mildew, or mold damage that results primarily from … “Failure to inspect and maintain the property after a flood recedes…”
For some homeowners, mold mitigation was delayed by days, weeks, or even months because their communities were inaccessible. For other homeowners, mold damage and mold growth were not immediately identifiable. Notwithstanding these legitimate and justifiable delays, some insurance companies have denied coverage for water, moisture, mildew, or mold damage caused by Sandy.
According to a February 15, 2013 memorandum issued by the NFIP addressing water, moisture, mildew, or mold damage: When this damage occurs in connection with a covered direct physical loss by or from flood, it will be covered unless there is clear evidence of the policyholder’s failure to inspect and maintain the insured property, where it was feasible to do so. If such damage is the result of wicking, it is covered.
Based on the NFIP memorandum, in order to be denied coverage for water, moisture, mildew, or mold damage, there must be: (i) clear evidence of the policyholder’s failure to inspect and maintain the insured property; and (ii) it must have been feasible for the policyholder to inspect and maintain the insured property. Absent either of these two criteria, the flood policy should cover water, moisture, mildew, or mold damage.
For many homeowners, water, moisture, mildew, and/or mold is continuing to cause damage to their property. In some cases, mold growth in unseen areas has not even been discovered. If you have been improperly denied coverage relating to water, moisture, mildew, or mold damage, you need to act quickly before time expires to seek additional payments under the policy.
About the Author: Christopher W. Gerold is an attorney in Wolff & Samson’s Disaster Recovery Claims Group. Chris represents homeowners and businesses with their Sandy related insurance claims with a special focus on flood insurance. For more information, on flood insurance and ways Wolff & Samson can help you with your flood insurance claim, please contact Chris at (973) 530-2061.