Home Insurance Does Not Cover Termites
As the summer weather heats up, millions of homeowners face the unpleasant risk of termite damage in their homes. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the unwelcome guests cause an estimated $5 billion in damages in the United States every year.
Often considered “silent destroyers,” the damage termites cause can easily can go undetected for long periods of time. Most times, homeowners are not aware of the damage is being caused until it’s too late to prevent and are then forced to pay to replace the damage.
Termites like to feast on damp-wood or wet wood, and are typically in areas that you are unlikely to check.
- Crawl spaces
- Wood framing
- Damp basements
- Rotting firewood
Termites are also not picky when it comes to the type of wood either. They will eat everything from common plywood to pine or oak.
Homeowners in states with year-round war weather – such as California or Florida – are most vulnerable to a termite infestation. Three types of termites that are especially likely to cause damage homes in the U.S.
If you rent a home or apartment, your landlord should regularly check for insects and rodents. Standard rental insurance does not cover termites.
Types of Termites
There are thousands of types of termites, but will fall into one of five categories. The first three are the most prevalent in homes across the U.S.
- Drywood termites. Less common than dampwood termites, they like very dry wood.
- Dampwood termites. They live in heavily forested and like wet wood.
- Subterranean termites. These are the most destructive type, they live mainly in soil and prefer moist environments.
- Conehead Termites: Originally called “tree termites” they are usually found in trees and shrubbery. Usually not in homes.
- Formosan Termites: A rare type of termite that is referred to as “super termites” because of their voracious, aggressive eating. These are the worst type of termite and will chew through wood floor or walls, often quickly and undetected. They are also rare to find in homes.
What termites love is the cellulose in wood. They are notorious for eating through structural support beams and other wood surfaces in a home. But they also will eat staircases, and can damage wallpaper or flooring.
On average termite control services charge $767 on average. That might seem like a lot of money, but if an infestation can cost upwards of $10,000, with a worst-case scenario being over $100,000. And once you have the problem solved you will need to have the home inspected to sign off that the termites have been removed.
Discovering a termite infestation could be a big issue, especially if you discover it because you’re looking to sell your home.
Home Insurance DOES NOT Cover Termite Damage
Buying a home insurance policy isn’t as simple as buying a life insurance policy. In some cases a home inspection is required to get the best rate, and a regular home insurance policy does not cover termites. This is because homeowners have an obligation to prevent damage, such as termites, in their own homes.
An insurance policy is intended to cover a sudden or un-preventable loss. A standard home insurance does not cover termites because it is preventable home maintenance issue.
By contrast, termite infestation damage happens over a long period of time and can be stopped by proper vigilance. It can be avoided with periodic inspections and basic treatments.
Termites will not eat through paint. A quality coat of paint is a cheap, and easy preventative for termites. And some forms of paint absorb into the wood, and is an added layer of protection.
Even though your home insurance policy does not cover termite damage, most pest control companies offer plans for annual inspection and treatment.
How to prevent termite damage
Early intervention is the best way to prevent termite damage. Sometimes, homeowners can see the early stages of a termite infestation in early spring or in the summer. Other signs of termite infestation include tubes of mud on the exterior of your home, or blistering or darkening of wood structures.
Before buying a home you should have a thorough inspection done on the property. Termite damage can be hard to detect for someone who isn’t familiar with the early signs of an infestation. In a lot of instances, evidence of termites will be in a dark area of the home, such as an attic or crawl space.
Professional home inspection is the best way to prevent any type of infestation. All inspectors and pest control companies are licensed by the state you reside in, and will have proof of their license.
Termite Infestation Guide
Once an infestation is discovered, the pest control company has a few options. This will depend on where the infestation is occurring in the home, how bad it is, and the type of wood termites are consuming.
How To Get Rid Of Termites
Since home insurance does not protect against termites, it’s useful to know how to get rid of them if you have to. Below are two ways pest control companies will remove them from your home. You can purchase the supplies yourself, but a specialist is the ideal solution.
The first option for a pest control company will be to use a liquid pesticide known as a termiticide. It can be injected near the foundation or within foundation walls. In some cases they may need special tools, depending on where the infestation is occurring in the home.
#2. Termite baits
Baits are the second option. They are made of cellulose, which is the organic compound that attracts termites to wood, and contain a slow-acting insecticide.
Most of these can be purchased at your neighborhood hardware store or online, but it is advised to get a professional to do it. The U.S. EPA tests and approves all pesticides used to treat termites.
Homeowners should ask the pest control specialist when it will be safe to re-enter the home following treatment. Many pest companies offer an extended service as well – this type of service means they will periodically come to check on the area that was infested and make sure they don’t return or gather in an area nearby.
Five Ways To Prevent Termite Damage
The NPMA recommends the following steps to help prevent termite damage:
- Reduce humidity and moisture levels in your home.
- Purchase an Energy Star Rated dehumidifier for areas in your home with high humidity.
- Proper ventilation to help reduce humidity.
- Keep shrubbery, vines and other vegetation from blocking vents.
- Remove old pieces of wood — decaying furniture, wet firewood, old books, etc.
Does Home Insurance Cover Termites
Home insurance DOES NOT cover termite damage.
Remember that a termite infestation that goes unnoticed for years can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. If you catch it early enough, you can remove termites yourself with a trip to the local hardware store and some basic pest removal supplies.
Since home insurance does not cover termites the next best option is annual check-ups by a pest control company.
A licensed pest control specialist will be able to spot and remove all types of pests in your home. This includes termites, but also mice, cockroaches, bees, etc.