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Controlling moisture will help keep out the mold

(Feb. 2013) – As recent as several years ago, finding mold in a bathroom or another part of the home was rarely a cause for concern. The homeowner would fix the water problem, clean or remove the materials that contained mold and dry out the area. It was that simple.

But things have changed. Mold is now being viewed in a new and complex light, sometimes portrayed as a serious threat on people's health.

Research indicates exposure to mold can cause hay fever-like allergic symptoms in some people. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), however, says a causal link between the presence of mold and serious illness has not been proven.

The good news is mold can be easily prevented and controlled. Mold growth depends on excessive moisture. If the owner of a home or building can prevent excessive moisture and take quick steps to rectify the problem when it does occur, the risk of mold developing will be minimized. Here are some recommendations from the CDC to prevent mold growth:

  • Keep the humidity level in the home or building below 40 percent.
  • Be sure the structure has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier during humid months.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints used in the home.
  • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
  • Do not carpet bathrooms.
  • Remove and replace flooded carpets.

Mold, like rot and insect infestation, is generally not covered by homeowners insurance. Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for events that are sudden and accidental. They are not designed to cover losses from improper maintenance or normal wear-and-tear.

If an accident occurs that is covered by your insurance policy – i.e., a water pipe suddenly bursts – the insurance company will generally pay for the water damage. Payment for resulting mold damage may or may not be covered. It depends on your type of policy, circumstances of the loss and applicable state laws.

It is important to remember the best defense for mold is an aggressive offense. Make sure your home has adequate ventilation, take care of leaky pipes and work with your insurance company to address sudden and accidental water damage. These simple steps can go a long way toward preventing a complicated situation.

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam.