Termites cause about $2.5 billion worth of property damage to American homes every year. Although humans fight back with a wide arsenal of termiticides (pesticides to kill termites) there are good reasons why termites are some of the most successful critters on the planet. Like people, they are opportunists.
When one termite colony has been wiped out, this not only makes the homeowner gives a sigh of relief, but can unfortunately be good news for other termites looking for a place to start new colonies. This is why a homeowner may have more than one tangle with terrible termites. To help reduce costs of extermination, many homeowners opt to purchase termite bonds.
Like Termite Insurance
A termite bond is a contract or policy that a homeowner has with an exterminating company. It also can be a type of “termite insurance” where your exterminators pay for any damage caused by termites after the home has been treated with termiticide. Just like with other types of contracts, termite bonds differ in cost and what they provide depending on which pest management professional you are working with.
There are two main types of termite bonds:
- Treatment bonds: Let’s say X Company successfully treated your home for termites. However, two years later, another termite colony has moved in. If you have a treatment bond with X Company, then your home will get another treatment for free. Usually with treatment bonds, you will have to pay for termite damages.
- Repair bonds: This type of bond will have the company pay for damages caused by termites. If you live in an area prone to termites, then this type of bond is the safest for homeowners to purchase.
Termite bonds often cover only certain types of termites and not all of the thousands of termite species known to exist in the world. The most damaging type are subterranean termites, but bonds can also cover drywood termites, dampwood termites, conehead termites, and/or Formosan termites. Only pay for the types of termites known to live in your state. For example, there’s no sense in paying for protection against dampwood termites when you live in the desert (not unless the ocean level suddenly rises about 100 feet and you discover that your desert is now perpetually soggy.)
What if the Company Goes Out of Business?
Once upon a time in America, there was a successful chain of exterminator companies which shall remain nameless. The company suddenly went out of business. Thousands of homeowners suddenly discovered that the termite bonds they paid for were now worth nothing. Chances are you know someone who was burned by this scenario from decades ago.
It’s generally a good idea to purchase a termite bond from a reputable company that has been around for years. If a pest management professional goes bankrupt, then your bond will likely be void. Never assume that another exterminator will honor the terms of your termite bond made with your original exterminator.
Exterminators know that homeowners want to avoid getting into a financial tangle of holding a worthless bond. Sensible exterminators will already have arrangements with other pest control companies to transfer their customer’s termite bonds. In this way, the customers are assured that they get what they paid for.
A Nice Extra in Real Estate Deals
Planning on buying or selling a home? Homes with termite bonds that can be transferred to a new homeowner makes that home all the more attractive. If you plan on selling your home, ask your exterminator if the bond can be transferred to a new owner. If you plan on buying a home soon, ask the seller if the home includes a transferrable termite bond.
Let’s say that you live in a neighborhood or state known for termite infestations. States along the Pacific Northwest and the Deep South are most prone to infestations. If you want to sell your home, then a termite bond gives you more integrity. If you want to buy a home and it does not have a termite bond, tread carefully. There may be something (like termites) that the seller is trying to hide.
A termite bond is also a good way for a seller to show that he or she has been carefully keeping up the home’s maintenance, even if the seller has lived in the home for only a couple of years. Buyers can still ask for inspections even for homes with termite bonds, so sellers should expect this and not try to discourage additional inspections.
How Do You Know If Your Termite Bond is Good?
Many homeowners are understandably nervous about getting a termite bond. Since termites live lives that are mostly invisible to people, it can be really hard to tell if a termite treatment worked or not. How can the homeowner even know if the exterminator used the termiticide properly? Don’t worry. There are ways of finding out.
If you are ever unsure if your pest control company did what they said they did, wait at least six months after the last treatment. Contact your local Department of Agriculture. They will use soil samples from your property to see what termiticide was used and how much was used. This tells the Department of Agriculture inspector (and you) if the exterminator did the job right or not.
Since reputable exterminators know that soil samples can check their work, they do their best to get the job done right. It’s just easier for everyone.
Why Termites Are So Hard to Kill
Why are termites so hard to kill? Actually, individual termites are incredibly easy to kill. They are completely blind and lack the sturdy exoskeletons of other types of insects like cockroaches. Termites exposed to heat and sunlight quickly dehydrate and die.
Termites as colonies are hard to kill because of the incredible fertility of the queen. She lays thousands of eggs every year of her very long life. Some queens have been known to reach 50 years of age! Unless the queen is killed, she will keep pumping out replacements for all of her workers and soldiers killed.
Good pest control companies do not offer easy, one-shot treatments (like setting off a bug bomb) because they will not kill the queen. Getting to assassinate the queen can take bait stations, digging a barrier ring around your home and other effective methods. Depending on your termite situation, your home may need more than one treatment before the queen is killed.