According to the USDA, termites cause $40 billion in damage every year to homes in the United States, damaging or destroying 600,000 homes annually. Many homeowners are well aware of this risk and assume their home insurance policies provide some protection against the little vandals. But sadly, this assumption is not made after careful research, and they often find themselves on the hook for enormous repair costs. It also could leave a home condemned and beyond repair if a termite infestation was allowed to get too far out of control.
Insurance policies do not generally cover termites
So, to simply answer the question in the title of this article, unless you have a fairly unusual policy, you can bet that your home insurance does not cover damage from termites. This is not just an attempt by the insurance companies to get out of covering one very specific and common cause of damage though. Home insurance does not cover pest damage in general. So, damage from rodents, roaches, raccoons, bats, and all the other pests you hope are not in your home is also not covered.
The reason for this is simple: damage from pests is considered a preventable maintenance issue, not the kind of unexpected, accidental, sudden peril that insurance is meant to cover. The same is true for plumbing problems. If a pipe one would assume was in working order bursts suddenly, it is generally covered. But if a pipe gradually accumulates gunk from the shower or sink and then backs up, causing water damage, the insurance company will consider you at fault for not maintaining clear pipes.
With termite damage, the assumption is that everyone is responsible for making sure there are regular termite inspections and, if necessary, treatments. Homeowners should be aware of what regular maintenance is considered to be their responsibility, and they should make sure they are protecting their investment in their home by performing this maintenance. Being unaware of these expectations and hoping home insurance will cover any problems that arise is a dangerous move. Many people who have taken this attitude have ended up having to pay enormous bills from their own pockets. And termites are definitely one of the major culprits for this.
How to protect your home against termites
Since the insurance company will not be much help in protecting your home against termites, what should you do instead?
- Get regular termite inspections: This is the most important step for you to take. If you are aware the very moment termites become present on your property, you can move quickly to eliminate them.
- Prevent any long-term moisture: Not just termites, but nearly all pests, look for long-term sources of moisture. It’s not a big deal if you let some water sit out on the counter once, but a dripping pipe, a flooded basement or other steady presence of water draws pests like a magnet. Termites especially like wood that has been softened by moisture.
- Take notice of signs: Blistered walls, hollow wood in framing or cabinets and small discarded insect wings are three signs you may have termites. Sagging floors or ceilings could be signs that the infestation has reached an advanced level.
- Know when to call an exterminator: Often, the company that inspects for termites will also exterminate them. If they spot any signs, or if you do, have a professional company take care of it immediately.
Do you have home insurance? If not, you should get some.
While home insurance will not help with termites, it does help with most other risks to your home. Call Winstead Insurance in Elkton, Maryland, at (410) 398-6700 if you are interested in home, car, life or other types of insurance.