Does homeowners insurance cover termite damage?
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
Damage to your home caused by termites can cost a lot of money to repair. In fact, pest control company Orkin estimates that the average termite repair cost for homeowners is $3,000. That’s why it’s important to understand how to prevent termites and identify existing issues as soon as possible as a homeowner, and how your homeowners insurance policy fits into the issue.
Does home insurance cover damage from termites?
Homeowners insurance provides you financial protection from damage caused by a number of events, including hail, theft, and lightning among other problems. When your home’s structure or personal property are damaged in these scenarios, your insurance carrier reimburses you for the value of the damage, after subtracting your deductible.
But is termite damage covered by homeowners insurance?
Unfortunately, termite damage is one of several common exclusions in homeowners insurance policies. In other words, you can’t file a termite damage insurance claim because it’s not covered.
Why is termite damage not covered by home insurance?
When you review the list of covered events on your homeowners insurance policy, you’ll notice that none of them are within your control to prevent. Riots, hail, and other acts caused by nature or others are not preventable. Termite damage is something you can prevent as a homeowner, which is why it’s not covered.
“Homeowners insurance protects you (and your lender, if you have a mortgage) against sudden disasters or unexpected accidents,” says insurance expert Laura Adams. “Since termites and other pests can be controlled by routine maintenance, they’re typically not covered by a standard home or renters insurance policy.”
When might damage from termites be covered by insurance?
Termite damage may be covered by your home insurance under certain circumstances. The first situation is if your entire house collapses because of termite damage. This falls under a somewhat ambiguously defined term of “collapse of your home.”
You would theoretically be covered up to the limit of your policy for this type of termite damage, but it’s important to note that this occurrence is almost unheard of. Ultimately, an insurance payout in this circumstance would be determined on the basis of whether or not the damage could have been detected and prevented, as well as the extent of “collapse.”
The second scenario in which termite damage may be covered is when a covered incident leads to the termite damage. For example, if a leaky pipe caused hidden moisture, which then attracted termites, you might be able to successfully file a claim. You do need to prove the link between the two incidents and show there was no neglect in maintenance on your part.
Summarized, here are the two exceptions to termite damage not being covered:
- Complete house collapse due to termites
- Covered peril leads to termites
How to determine if your home has termites
Identifying potential termite damage early on can save a lot of trouble and cost, both when purchasing a home and after you’ve lived there for quite some time.
“Before you buy a home, lenders typically require a termite inspection,” Adams explains. “Since many damaging pests are difficult to spot, it’s wise to have a professional pest company estimate the extent of any existing damage so you can factor it into your purchase offer. Also, consider the value of a termite protection plan, which can offer customized solutions to repair potential future damage.”
Once you’ve lived in the home for a while, you need to keep an eye out for any new signs of termites. “Even though pests can cause a lot of damage to your dwelling and personal belongings, it’s up to you to find and eradicate them,” says Adams. “Make sure to stay on the lookout for suspicious damage inside or outside, such as tunnels or cracks in wood floors, window frames, beams and ceilings, which may indicate termite activity.”
Here are some specific steps to uncover existing termites in your home.
Step 1: Look for early warning signs
There are several potential signs of termite damage you may notice in your home, depending on where they are. Peeling drywall or paint, hollow sounds in wood and squeaky floorboards are some of the telltale signs that termites may be causing damage to your home behind the scenes.
Step 2: Identify swarms outside
In addition to interior clues, you may also see signs of termites outside. These winged creatures may swarm sometime in the spring or fall and you may see dropped wings on places like your window sills or around the home’s foundation.
Step 3: Get professional help
If you have any hint of termites in your home, call an experienced professional to perform an inspection. They’ll be able to identify less pronounced signs of infestation that you may not even notice yourself.
Common places to find termites
- Support beams
- Window sills
- Wood porches
- Wood siding
How to prevent termite damage
Preventing termite damage is less stressful and more cost effective than dealing with an infestation. Take action early on to reduce the likelihood of termites nesting in or around your home.
- Don’t place mulch or soil directly next to your home.
- Make sure soil around the house drains well to reduce moisture.
- Maintain wood siding to avoid leaks and rot.
- Install vapor barrier in crawl space to keep space dry.
What to do if you have termite damage that is not covered
In most cases you find termite damage, you won’t be able to file a claim with your homeowners insurance. When that happens, take the following steps to repair the situation
- Treat termites first. No matter how much damage you discover in your home, call in a pest control specialist. They will take care of the active infestation and prevent further damage from taking place.
- Engage a contractor to repair the damage. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, you typically have two ways to fix the situation. You can either have a contractor replace the damaged wood entirely, or add support next to the areas that were affected by termites.
- Follow the advice of termite specialists. Once you take care of the current problem, ask your pest specialist the best way to prevent future infestation in your specific area. Also request a treatment barrier and get annual inspections as necessary.
- Termite damage is rarely covered by homeowners insurance.
- Look for signs of damage when buying a house and regularly after moving in.
- Annual inspections can reduce the threat of long-term damage.
Termites can cause extensive damage to your home, often going unnoticed for extended periods of time. Understand the warning signs early on and take preventative measures to keep your house safe, especially when it comes to moisture in and around your home. These simple steps can save you thousands of dollars or more in termite damage repair costs.