Does a Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Termite Damage?
Scenic windows, warm interiors, a blossoming garden – a picture perfect home you’ve got! This is until you see bugs invading and eating away your home from the inside. It’s a shocking and horrible sight to see. Cockroaches, ants, flies, and worst of all, termites!
They munch away on your precious wooden floors, walls and ceilings and create colonies that are difficult to take out. Now that the damage has been done, you ask yourself, “Does homeowners insurance cover termite damage?”
Well, the unfortunate answer is... not really.
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Why insurance won’t cover it
It is unlikely that insurance companies would bail you out of this dilemma for one simple reason. Termite damage is preventable. Bug infestations that lead to the structural damage of your home is considered to be a maintenance issue and does not fall under sudden or accidental damage.
The coverage of homeowners insurance may slightly vary for different companies, but more or less they are alike. For example, State Farm will cover damages from:
Natural occurrences (like fire, lightning, storms, and hails)
Damage from riots and vandalisms
Theft or robbery
Sudden or accidental pipe bursts
Others stated by the insurer
It also specifically states that the insurance does not cover “Bodily injury or property damage that is expected or intended by the insured.” The key phrase here is “expected or intended by the insured.” Though termite damage is not intended, the infestation of termites is deemed to be expected by the homeowner.
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As you know, termites slowly infest and multiply in your home. Thus, neglecting the signs of termite infestation for years will eventually lead to your home’s own demise. This is exactly why homeowners’ insurance won’t bother to pay for you. It will presume that you have neglected something that you should have expected and termites are a proof of that.
The interesting thing here is, termites cause a total of $5 billion dollars in property damage every year, and some species can consume your whole house in as little as two years. And it doesn’t end there. Termites are very small creatures that they can fit perfectly within cracks, and once they do fit in, the queen will start reproducing up to 1,000 eggs a day!
To make things worse, termites have no concept of dieting. They chomp on wood 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Why termites are infesting your house
There are two main types of termites that can wreak havoc in your home: subterranean termites and drywood termites. Both exist in the United States but the prevalence of subterranean termites are common in all states except Alaska and drywood termites are isolated in dry and arid areas.
All termites, because they are living creatures, hunt for their food, which are mostly cellulose-based. Termites infest your home mainly because of wood and other cellulose-based material.
Subterranean termites, aside from the attraction of food, also gather moisture to survive. Most of their termite colonies are found underground but a type of subterranean termite, which is the Formosan termite, is more aggressive. It can build soil mounds, which house their colony.
Drywood termites on the other hand, are mostly found within the wood itself. They do not need moisture to survive and they can build colonies without having to be in contact with the ground.
What you can do to prevent termite infestation
The absence of an insurance coverage does not mean you are in a hopeless situation. Prevention is the best way to mitigate the disastrous effects of termite infestations. Here are some tips to keep you on your feet when it comes to this:
Look for telltale signs. If you are unsure if termites are infesting your house, look for some subtle clues they leave behind. Check if there are mud trails or mud tunnels running through the corners and walls of your home. Some termites also fly so seeing them in your home is a sign.
Schedule regular inspections. Have a pest control company inspect your home every year to check if there are colonies of termites, ants, or cockroaches in your home. Usually, termite colonies are well hidden from plain sight and only experts can find it.
Prevent wood to ground contact. Keep your wood above ground as much as possible to prevent termites from getting to it easily. If you have wooden structures on the ground, inspect them often to see if there are telltale signs of termite infestation.
Get a termite bond. Pest control companies offer termite bonds which compensate for what insurance cannot provide you. These bonds vary in services offered and may or may not involve certain termite species. But overall, this is better than having nothing at all!
Even though your homeowners insurance does not cover termite damage, there are ways on how you can prevent it. As an added protection, make sure you conduct yearly inspections and get a termite bond. This way, you can sleep soundly without being bothered by those pesky bugs!