Homeowner, help yourself
"A lot of people are surprised that pest damage isn't covered by their insurance," Baumann says. "Unfortunately, most of the time it isn't."
That means that homeowners have to help themselves. When it comes to creepy-crawlies, here are five ways to lessen the financial bite of a pest infestation:
1. Thoroughly read your homeowners insurance policy. It's not pool-side reading, but being forewarned is being forearmed. "Homeowners that understand their coverage are better prepared and are less likely to be caught unawares," Baumann says. He also recommends asking questions about anything you don't understand. "A super deal on insurance may turn out to be a policy that doesn't cover anything."
2. Know what pests are the biggest threat. Figure out what you need to prepare for. If you live in Montana, termites are a relatively low threat because they don't thrive in the state's dry, summer heat or very cold winters. You have more odds of a bear breaking into your home than termites munching on your home's wood siding. However, if you live in Maryland, termites are a real possibility, but your home is probably safer from browsing bears.
3. Get your home inspected. Most states and mortgage brokers require inspections before they'll give you a mortgage. If you happen to live somewhere that doesn't require a home inspection, get one anyway before you buy, and make certain the inspection covers pest and vermin infestations. An expert can alert you to pest problems so you can take the findings into consideration in making an offer, know what corrective action will be needed or begin looking at other houses.
4. Contract for annual inspections and spraying. The latest trend in pest control is warranted sprayings, according to Baumann. The pest-control firm will inspect and eradicate pests and then give you a year's warranty. Then the firm comes out a year later and the process starts all over again. What's key is to prevent or catch infestations early, which these annual inspections should do.
5. Hire the right firm for the job. Homeowners will sometimes hire a termite firm, thinking the company will not only look for and eradicate wood-eating insects but will also give a heads-up if mold or other problems are present. Don't count on it. These firms are specialists, so the pest-control guy isn't likely to point out your home's water damage.