Every year, roughly 600,000 homes in the United States are damaged by termites. Fixing a termite infestation can cost thousands of dollars and may require professional home repairs. Most homeowners are unaware of a termite infestation until there is significant damage.
When a termite infestation is suspected, one of the first things people wonder is whether insurance will cover any damage. While there are a couple of instances when termite damage is covered by home insurance, it’s a good idea to understand when it is not covered, what to do if there is a termite problem and how to keep termites out of the house in the first place.
When termite damage is covered by homeowners insurance
There are only two situations when homeowners insurance will cover the cost of termite damage repair and extermination, including:
- When the termite infestation is caused by a covered peril: If termites enter the home because of a covered peril, the homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the infestation. For example, if a hailstorm damages the roof and termites get into the attic, it may be covered under insurance.
- When the house collapses due to termite damage: If the home has severe termite damage and collapses due to structural issues, home insurance will likely pay for the rebuilding. Even if the damage is gradual, the home insurance company will likely still consider it a covered loss.
When termite damage is not covered by homeowners insurance
Termite damage is typically not covered by homeowners insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Bug, pest and rodent problems are considered preventable, and homeowners are expected to take proactive measures to avoid infestations.
Home insurance companies will not cover termite damage that results from neglect. If the homeowner failed to address potential entry points, the infestation would not be covered by insurance. Additionally, home insurance will not cover termite damage that occurs slowly over time.
Personal property that is damaged by termites is not covered by homeowners insurance either. Insurance will only cover damage to the physical structure of the home and attached structures, depending on the policy’s terms.
What to do when you have termite damage not covered by insurance
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a termite insurance policy. If the home has termite damage that is not covered by homeowners insurance, a professional will need to assess the situation, give you a cost estimate and recommend the best way to solve the problem.
Before choosing an exterminator, have several professionals visit and provide a quote. The service cost will be out-of-pocket, so look for a company that offers fair prices and has good customer reviews. Ask how long the extermination process will take and when a contractor can survey the interior damage.
The next step is to have a contractor evaluate the damage inside the home. Consider getting several opinions about the repairs that need to be made and what it will cost. Any contractor will be able to address a termite infestation and recommend repairs.
How to prevent termites
As mentioned, termite infestations are often preventable. Termites can enter homes through foundation cracks, crevices, loose pipes and gutters. They are attracted to humid and moist environments and are usually more active in the spring months.
To prevent termites, start by eliminating termite food sources. Termites eat cellulose, which can be found in firewood, plants, mulch and other woody materials. If possible, keep those things away from the sides of your home where termites can easily get in.
Next, seal entry points to keep termites out. Check the home’s foundation for small cracks and holes. Seal gaps around any water and gas lines that run outside the home. Look for leaky pipes or gutters that can cause water to pool around the foundation.
Scheduling annual termite inspections is important for all homeowners. The annual inspection can catch an infestation early and prevent further damage. Have a professional exterminator check the home for termites once per year and follow their guidance on keeping termites away from the house.
Frequently asked questions
How do I know if my home has termites?
Unlike a rodent or ant infestation, it can be difficult to detect termites, which live in the walls, support beams, floors, ceilings, cabinets, furniture and carpet. Some of the things that may indicate termite damage include soft or hollow wood, bubbling paint, splintered wood or mud tubes. You may also find termite pellet droppings or termites themselves.
How much does termite extermination cost?
The cost of termite extermination depends on a few factors, including the number of termites and the termite colony’s size. Small infestations are less expensive to treat, and widespread infestations are more expensive. Before hiring an exterminator, request price quotes from a few companies to ensure the best rate.
Can I file a home insurance claim for termite damage?
If a covered peril directly caused a termite infestation, home insurance might cover the damages. The insured can file a claim, submit evidence of the damage and get reimbursed. However, it will be necessary to prove that the infestation was caused by the covered peril and did not occur gradually over time. If the claim is not provable, it will not be covered under insurance.
What is the best home insurance company?
Every homeowner has specific needs when it comes to insurance. Some homeowners look for great customer service, while others look for cheap rates. The best home insurance company is different for everyone, but several companies stand out. Based on our research, Amica, Allstate and Geico offer some great homeowners insurance options.