Pests like termites not only cause structural damage — an infestation can be a pain to exterminate. Will homeowners insurance step in to assist?
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Homeowners insurance will not cover damage caused by termites, nor will it cover termite extermination if you need pest control. Termites can cause extensive damage to building structures — to the point of collapse, in some severe cases — and can be an expensive, headache-inducing pest to exterminate from your home.
Unfortunately, termite damage is not considered a covered peril except in very rare circumstances, and you would be financially liable for fixing the damage and hiring an exterminator for the termite infestation. In the eyes of home insurance companies, the detection of termites is a maintenance issue that could have been resolved long before it caused damage in the first place.
Termite infestations and the subsequent property damage they cause are seen as preventable by insurance companies — they expect homeowners to be diligent and cognizant of any potential pests as a routine part of property upkeep and home maintenance. The same goes for other household pests, as infestations are usually gradual processes that are often borne out of neglect and could have been prevented early on.
If an appliance malfunctions and causes a fire in your home, that’s an unexpected event that could not have been foreseen or prevented. Compare that to a termite problem that gradually wears down the structure or foundation of your house and ends up leading to expensive repairs. While the fire could not have been knowingly prevented, the termite issue could have been halted earlier had the homeowner kept up with routine maintenance checks and taken action before the infestation caused structural damage.
Any termite damage to your personal property, like furniture, is also not covered. Although personal property is part of your homeowners insurance policy, termite and pest damage is similarly not a covered peril when it comes to your belongings.
This is a good example of why it’s so important to understand what your homeowners policy covers and what it doesn’t cover— and why you should never make assumptions when it comes to coverage. While pest issues seem like something home insurance should cover, insurers will not hesitate to point to the negligence of the homeowner as the source of an infestation.
In some rare circumstances, termite damage could be covered by your homeowners insurance. If you can prove to your insurance company the termite infestation was caused by a covered peril, your insurer might be more willing to cover your claim.
For example, if a plumbing mishap caused pipes to leak in your basement, resulting in water damage and a subsequent termite infestation, the termite damage could be covered by your insurance — if you can prove this series of events. A situation like this is the only time anything termite-related could be covered, but it’s still not guaranteed. Your best chance of getting termite damage covered in a similar situation is by maintaining an open line of communication with your insurance company every step of the way — from the leaky pipes to the first signs of termites.
There are several types of termites that infest homes, but they all have one thing in common — they will eat away at anything made of cellulose. This includes wood and any kind of woody, organic material, but they have also been known to eat drywall and paper. Termites are attracted to moist, humid environments, and thrive in these conditions. The most important and effective rules for preventing termites from invading your home in the first place are to reduce or remove potential food sources and to seal off access.
Here are some tips to reduce your chances of a termite infestation:
With routine maintenance and a watchful eye, you can avoid the nuisance of dealing with termites and the destruction termites can cause.
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.