Most people love their homes, which is why they protect them with homeowners insurance. Unfortunately, termites may also love their homes – as a food source – and most of the time, home insurers won’t pay for the repairs because it’s seen as a preventable problem. But there are several situations where homeowners can file a successful home insurance claim for termite damage.
How to Get Homeowners Insurance to Cover Termite Damage
Homeowners insurance coverage for termite damage is similar to homeowners insurance for water damage or homeowners insurance coverage for tree removal. Most of the time, insurers won’t cover it, but they may in certain circumstances if the termite damage was caused by or led to a covered peril.
For example, if termites gnaw through electrical wiring in a home and cause a house fire, most homeowner’s insurance policies would pay for the fire damage. They can also pay for sudden home collapse due to structural termite damage if the homeowner can prove there were no obvious signs of damage and that they had no idea there were termites in their home.
Or if a covered water damage claim has created a breeding ground for termites, a home insurer may cover that if the homeowner can prove the two things are connected.
But homeowners will have to foot the bill for ordinary termite damage that could have been prevented with proper maintenance. For those unfamiliar with how homeowners insurance works, it only pays for claims related to perils specifically listed on the policy. Because termite damage is not a covered peril, home insurers generally have no obligation to pay for it.
Facts about termite damage
Here are some key facts about termite damage that all homeowners should know:
The cost to repair termite damage
The exact cost of repairing termite damage will depend on how extensive the damage is, but the average cost is about $3,000, according to Orkin. However, homeowners may be able to fix the situation for less if they catch the problem early. And if they keep up with their routine home maintenance, they may be able to prevent termite outbreaks altogether.
How long does it take for termites to cause damage?
It takes about five months for a colony of about 60,000 termites to eat a 2×4 piece of wood, according to Terminix. This may not sound like much, but it is this slow pace of damage that allows termites to go unchecked in many homes for years. By the time they are discovered, they may have caused minor damage to large areas of the home.
What does termite damage look like?
Some common signs of termite damage are:
- Termite tunnels: Termites dig small mud tubes around their nests. They can appear around the foundation of a home or anywhere there is exposed wood.
- Tree damage: Maze-like patterns in wood or a hollow sound when tapping on wood may indicate that termites have eaten away at it.
- Deformed floors: If your house or porch floors look sagged or warped, it could be a sign that termites have compromised the integrity of the boards that support them.
- Occurrence of water damage: Sometimes termite damage can look like water damage at first glance.
- Dead termites: Termites look like yellow flying ants with two sets of wings. Homeowners may find their wings or corpses if their home has been infested.
Can You Buy Termite Insurance?
Even the best homeowner’s insurance companies don’t sell termite insurance policies. That’s why it’s important for homeowners to stay vigilant and take the steps listed below to prevent termite damage. If they notice signs of termites in their homes, they should take immediate action to exterminate them and begin repairs.
Homeowners worried about missing potential termite damage can arrange an annual inspection with their local pest control service. They will inspect the home for signs of termite damage and can take steps to resolve the problem if necessary.
How to prevent termite damage
Here are some steps homeowners can take to reduce the risk of termite damage:
- Remove all wood and paper debris from the home’s foundation and stack firewood at least 20 feet away from the home.
- Trim the bushes and grass around the home.
- Make sure all gutters and downspouts are clear to avoid excess moisture building up around the home’s foundation.
- Seal any gaps in the home’s foundation caused by settling.
- Get regular termite inspections from a reputable pest control company.
How to repair termite damage
It is not uncommon for termites to cause permanent damage to a home. It is often possible to get rid of a termite colony and repair damaged areas, although this can cost the homeowner several thousand dollars.
After realizing that there is a termite infestation, the homeowner’s first step should be to get rid of the termites. Otherwise, if the repairs are tackled right away, the termites will simply start eating the new wood, eventually leading to the same problems.
Most pest control companies should be able to remove termites. It’s best not to proceed with repairs until they give you the all clear.
Then the next step is to repair the parts of the home that termites have damaged. This may include replacing damaged boards with new ones or placing a new board next to the old one to act as a support. It’s best to leave this work to a licensed contractor, especially when working with wood that affects the structural integrity of the home. Get quotes from multiple contractors to find the best deal.