Termites are working 24/7 365 days a year. Fortunately for you, so is our termite protection!
Termite Awareness Week runs from March 6-12, 2022. During this time, experts at The Professional Pest Management Alliance are encouraging members of the pest control industry to get the word out about the risks and prevention of residential termite infestations.
Virtually all homeowners fear the news that their property has termites. These wood-munching insects can infiltrate a home or an office, hiding themselves away in tiny crannies and eating at a building’s supporting structures. Left unchecked, their colonies can grow to enormous sizes. Just consider a CNN report about “a gigantic complex of 200 million termite mounds in northeastern Brazil, which may be up to 4,000 years old and covers an area about the size of Great Britain.” But long before residential or commercial termite infestations get to that point, they’re likely to severely damage or possibly even destroy your structure.
The expense of treating termites and termite damage repair costs can prove significant, which is why some people wonder if there’s home insurance for termite damage. We’ll answer that question in this article, as well as how you can spot termite damage.
Is termite damage covered by my insurance policy?
Before we begin discussing how insurance coverage relates to termite damage, let us offer a disclaimer: This article is only dealing in generalities. The specific things your policy covers may differ from what we say here. That’s why you should always read your own homeowner’s policy for yourself, and if you have specific questions, you should speak with your insurance agent.
Homeowners who have discovered that they have a significant infestation often find themselves wondering how to pay for termite damage. After all, the EPA reports, “Every year termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage, and property owners spend over two billion dollars to treat them.” No wonder homeowners find themselves hoping that their homeowner’s policy will also function like some sort of termite insurance.
Unfortunately, that’s almost never the case. While insurance may cover termite damage in some specific circumstances (which we will discuss below), it almost never does. If you have extensive termite damage, you’ll need to foot the bill yourself.
Why is termite damage not covered by home insurance?
Many homeowners feel aghast when they learn that their policy doesn’t cover termite damage or a termite treatment. “How can this be?” they ask. “Shouldn’t my policy protect my home from risks?” Insurance does do that, of course. However, the devil is in the proverbial details.
Major insurer Nationwide explains the problem with covering termite damage: “Homeowners insurance is designed to cover risks and damage that are accidental and sudden. As a pest control company will tell you, termites aren’t a sudden phenomenon. While you may not initially know they’re sharing your home, they will stick around as long as you continue to provide them with food and water. The cost to remove termites and repair their damage is generally not covered by your homeowner’s insurance.”
This is certainly what most homeowners don’t want to her. Sadly, though, it’s true. Termites are less like a fire and more like mold, spreading slowly and insidiously while offering plenty of clues about their presence — especially if you have a professional conducting regular inspections.
When does homeowners insurance cover termite damage?
Asking how to get insurance to cover termite damage? Homeowners should know that there are ways to do so — but you probably won’t like them. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would.
ValuePenguin by LendingTree spells out the reasons why an insurer might cover the cost of your termite damage: “There are two cases when your homeowner’s insurance will cover termite damage, up to the limits of your policy: When the house completely collapses from termites [and when] a covered risk or peril causes the termites.” That first point is pretty self-explanatory, but the second may require some additional explanation. American Family Insurance does just that, stating, “For example, you’ll usually be covered if termites chewed through the wiring in your home and caused a fire, since home insurance policies cover damages caused by fire.”
Can I get termite insurance?
Given that few insurers cover termite damage, is there a specialized kind of termite insurance and is termite insurance worth it? The answer is, kind of — but insurance companies aren’t the ones who will be offering it.
Termite insurance is sometimes called a termite bond, and it’s essentially a sort of service plan offered by pest control companies. Exactly what these plans look like will vary from company to company. Some will visit your property and inspect for termites once a year, twice a year or every quarter. All will inspect in and around your property and offer treatments to ensure that a termite problem doesn’t develop. Some will also agree to cover any damages that occur to your home or commercial property from termites, although damage from certain termite species may be excluded.
Termite insurance cost will vary based on the area where you’re located, as well as the company offering it and the agreement’s specific terms. But no matter if you purchase a termite policy or simply schedule regular inspections, we’d urge you to take action! Proper preparation prevents a perilous problem when dealing with termites.
How to spot termite damage in your home
Part of the reason why termites do so much damage is that property owners rarely know they’re active until the structural harm becomes significant. Still, you can take certain steps if you suspect your home has termite damage. These include looking for:
- Damaged wood. A favorite snack of all kinds of termites, wood will eventually collapse if infested by these insects. If you think that you have a damaged section of wood, try probing it with an implement such as a screwdriver to determine if it has any hollow spots.
- Mud tubes. Termites get about your property by crafting tubes made of mud throughout the wood and/or drywall of your home. If you can see these around your property, it’s a dead giveaway that you also have termites.
- Frass and insect parts. When termites pass by, they leave evidence behind, such as tiny piles of wings near windows or tiny pellets (i.e., frass).
- Structural damage. Buckling floors, sagging doorways, and blistered or swollen woodwork are all signs of an advanced termite infestation.
What to do if you have uninsurable termite damage
By the time you’ve learned that you have a termite infestation on your hands, your problem has advanced past simple solutions. You need to take drastic action — and your first step should be to eliminate the current colony of bugs. Calling a handyman or even a contractor may need to become part of your plans but make no mistake, failing to address the termites in your home will only lead to more heartache later.
Fortunately, Smithereen Pest Management Services stands ready to help. We have over a century of experience in managing pests, termites included. Contact us today to learn how our environmentally and people-friendly practices can eliminate your termite troubles once and for all!