At some point in time, most homeowners have an encounter with termites. You’ll soon find out that these are not your everyday insects or pests. By the time you make the discovery that you have termites, you probably already have extensive damage. So, now what do you do?
Many homeowners think about calling their insurance agent to file a claim to obtain help financially with the damage those very unwelcome invaders have caused. Now, the bad news …. most insurance companies do not cover damage caused by termites.
Homeowner Insurance Termite Clauses
Many insurance companies have clauses within the homeowner’s policy explaining or stating coverage is for sudden or unexpected damages. Some insurance policies even state clearly that they specifically exclude coverage for any type of termite damage. Depending on your personal coverage and where you live, these type phrases usually mean storm damage or someone has accidentally driven a big truck through your house, but not damage created by termites.
Termites are referred to as bugs, vermin, or pesky insects. They can and usually do create a great deal of damage in a relatively short period of time. Insurance companies consider the damage caused by the termites to be preventable. That’s why they do not straight out cover damage to your home by termites.
Termite Cases That Might Qualify for Homeowners Insurance Claims
There are a few scenarios of damage from termites that you “might” receive some help financially from your homeowner’s insurance. Your insurance company “might” consider the following losses due to termites to be a form of collateral damage;
- One such example could be that you have kept up with all your pest inspections and treatments and then you have had a great deal of rain or damp weather, damage from storms, and damage from termites has been discovered – like your floor rotting out from underfoot or part of your ceiling collapsing – your homeowner’s insurance company may send out an appraiser to assess the damage and work out an agreed upon settlement sum for payment of repairs.
- Adding to the above scenario, imagine your home deteriorating after the discovery of termites, and you receive extensive damage to your home computer, televisions or other expensive electronics. The damage of these items due to “unexpected or sudden” damage is covered in your policy, but you’ll need to work out the details of the damage with your insurance company as it is found to originate from termites.
Why Homeowners Insurance Requires a Pest Inspection
When you purchase a home with a mortgage, you’ll be required by the lender to have a pest inspection prior to closing. Sometimes, when a home is purchased by paying cash (no mortgage and no mortgage requirements), the pest inspection is not done or overlooked. Regardless of it being a lender requirement or not, it is in your best interest to always have a home pest inspection prior to closing. Not getting that initial pest home inspection may become an issue with your insurance coverage in treating termites that are later discovered.
There are some steps that “you” as the homeowner must take to ensure that you are prepared for a termite invasion and subsequent damage.
- Make sure to have a professional home pest inspection prior to closing on your home. Should there be evidence of termites at this point, the seller needs to have the home properly treated and any damage repaired, at the owner’s expense, before you close on the home.
- Keep up with regular home pest treatments and inspections. Just because your home is clear of termites when you buy and move it, it is up to you, as a homeowner, to maintain a pest-free home.
Find a Reliable Pest Company for Regular Inspections
Find a pest or termite company that you can schedule regular treatments at your home. Depending on where you live, exterminating companies work with homeowners to inspect and treat on a regular schedule – once a month, every three months, or yearly. These exterminating treatments should always include inspecting and treating the outside perimeter of your home. At least once a year, the exterminating treatment should include entering your home to treat and inspect the home interior, the garage, the attic, and the basement in some homes. Some of the exterminating companies offer programs or “bonds” that more or less mean that they are treating your home on a planned basis and they will guarantee that your home stays termite free.
Keep your eyes open for structural damage or evidence that you may have some unwanted termite visitors. Look specifically for any thinning or rotted wood in your home. This could be anywhere like the eves under your roof. Should you have to have any repairs where the inside of the walls are exposed, take that opportunity to get a flashlight in there and check it out before the repairs are done. Signs of tiny bits of powdered wood or dirt tunnels, unexplained holes in the wood, or wood just simply rotting away are definite warning signs. Call your exterminator.
Doing your part as a responsible homeowner by maintaining regular pest inspections and treatments, including inspections specific for termites, will strengthen your chances of working with your homeowner’s insurance should you discover extreme termite damage under unexpected circumstances. Keep all your documentation of termite and pest treatment in the event, they are needed as proof of maintaining your home pest free.