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Does home insurance cover mould damage?

No, home insurance doesn't usually cover mould damage. Discover why there may be some rare exceptions to this rule. Also, get tips to prevent mould in the home.

What you need to know

  • Most home insurance policies don't cover mould as it's considered to be preventable.
  • You may have grounds to claim if mould comes about as a direct result of an insured event.
  • An example could be if a natural disaster damages your roof which then leads to mould.

Does home insurance cover mould damage?

In most cases, no. You can safely assume that home insurance won’t cover any damage caused by mould or for mould removal or cleaning. Mould and fungus is typically found as a general exclusion in home insurance policies, and will not be covered in any way.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, Youi's home insurance PDS states: "We will not pay for death or bodily injury to any person, or loss or damage to property, caused directly or indirectly by[...]mould, rot, damp, or the effects of the climate or weather, unless as a direct result of an incident for which we have accepted a claim".

This doesn't mean that you will be covered, since you can generally still take measures to prevent mould from developing, but it does suggest you could be entitled to some cover.

Why doesn’t home insurance cover mould damage?

Home insurance won’t cover mould damage for two main reasons. Firstly, some mould growth is almost unavoidable, especially in more tropical areas of Australia. Secondly, it doesn't usually cause any damage if taken care of as quickly as possible.

So mould itself is unavoidable, while mould damage is preventable. Neither of those situations is intended to be covered by home insurance.

What to do if you’re a tenant with mould issues

You’ll want to fix it as soon as possible. Depending on the surface, the extent of the problem and the type of mould, this might be as easy as simply wiping it away with a cloth, or it might need professional cleaning services.

In all cases, make sure you follow the preventative steps going forwards. Without doing so, it’s probably just going to come back again quickly.

Gerard Murtagh, managing director of mould remediation company MouldMen, says ventilating your property whenever possible is helpful, because it allows for air circulation. This is important as mould prevention, and also once you have a mould problem to treat.

"If using a rag to clean mould, wash it immediately and avoid using it for other areas to prevent spreading mould spores," he says.

"If you find mould patches smaller than the size of your hand, use personal protective equipment (PPE) and a domestic cleaner, and never use bleach to clean Mould. For larger areas, consider contacting a professional cleaner."

The cost of a mould removal service depends on the extent of the problem, the type of mould and the location. A quote might range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

For example, you might be able to clean it away yourself for free, and then open a window. Or you might be paying thousands of dollars for actual home renovations in order to eliminate a source of rising damp. If this is the case, you need to involve the landlord.

When is a landlord responsible for mould?

Whether the landlord or the tenant is responsible for mould depends on the situation.

Generally, the landlord will only be responsible if the mould is there because of the landlord’s failure to fulfill their obligations.

This might be:

  • A failure to clean the property before renting it out to a new tenant
  • A failure to fix a shower leak, which has led to mould growth
  • A failure to repair a leaking ceiling, which has led to mould growth
  • Ongoing problems with the building itself, such as rising damp

Meanwhile, the tenant might be responsible when the mould is caused by:

  • A failure to inform the landlord of problems with the property. For example, if the tenant knows there’s a leaky pipe beneath the sink but doesn’t tell anyone.
  • A failure to take reasonable steps to prevent mould growth, such as airing out a room or opening the windows to clear out moisture faster

So, who’s responsible for mould?

Both the tenant and the landlord have certain obligations under a rental contract. If the growth of the mould, and subsequent damage, can be clearly tied to the failure of one party to meet their obligations then that’s probably the party that’s responsible for it.

What to do if you’re a landlord with mould problems?

Landlord insurance will also typically exclude mould damage. Whether you’re a tenant, a landlord or a homeowner, insurance companies don’t want anything to do with mould.

If you’ve found that a tenant’s property has damage from mould, you may want to:

  • Determine the cause.
  • Assess the extent of the damage and take steps to minimise and fix it where possible.

If extensive mould damage was caused by a failure on the part of the tenants, then it’s safe to say they probably won’t be getting their bond back.

If you’re a landlord and find that the damage is extensive, you might take legal action to have the tenant cover that damage.

Note that your own obligations as landlords will probably also come under the magnifying glass when you do, and the final verdict will come down to the court’s decision.

Steps to prevent mould in the home

The factors that contribute to mould growth are:

  • Moisture. This is the number one risk factor. Leaks, soggy clothes lying around, rising damp or humid weather can all lead to moisture in the home. Murtagh suggests you use exhaust fans in bathrooms for at least 30 minutes after showering to eliminate moisture.
  • Lack of airflow. Enclosed spaces with a lack of airflow are more prone to mould growth.
  • Darkness. Sunlight can help prevent mould growth. Similarly, enclosed spaces such as cupboards are also typically dark spaces. A soggy cloth in a drawer, for example, will almost certainly grow mould quickly.
  • Heat. More species of mould thrive in warmer conditions than colder ones.

Moisture is the number one consideration, because mould will typically not grow without it. But sometimes it might be impossible to prevent, in which case you need to pay closer attention to the other risk factors listed above.

This problem is not going away. It isn't just a one-off storm or a summer storm. We are expecting to see a much wetter winter than usual.

Gerard Murtagh - MouldMen

Gerard Murtagh - MouldMen

Protect the rest of your home with the right policy

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Our verdict: Finder’s 2022 Insurer of the Year for Customer Satisfaction and our Top Pick for Fire Damage cover. It’s good if you want a tailored quote over the phone.
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3.5/5★★★★★
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3.5/5★★★★★
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Bonus
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