Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Termite Damage?

Termites are one of the most dreaded pests as a homeowner. Every year, termites cost property owners over $5 billion in damages. Removing termites alone can cost $3,000 or more. Repairing wood or structural damage from a termite colony can cost substantially more. Unfortunately, most homeowners insurance policies do not cover typical termite damage, nor the costs to remove the pests. However, your policy may reimburse you if termites cause a covered incident, such as an electrical fire.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

When it comes to termites, it is always better to prevent an infestation than try to repair related damages after the fact. Termites commonly access a home through gaps in the wood around water and gas lines. Seal these areas to limit termite access points. Try to reduce contact between the wood of your home and the ground to avoid subterranean termites. Reduce food sources by trimming back landscaping at least six inches from the foundation of your home. Avoid moisture issues that could attract termites, such as flooding in your basement or leaky pipes in crawlspaces.

Hire termite professionals to regularly inspect your home and take steps to prevent an infestation. It often takes three to eight years for a termite colony to cause noticeable damage to a home. The sooner you detect termites, the better your odds are of eradicating them before they cause significant wood or home damage. If it is too late and termites have already compromised the safety or stability of your home, find out whether your insurance company will cover repairs.

Insurance Coverage for Termite Damage

You may be able to detect termites by looking for signs of their presence, such as tunnels in the wood of your home, hollow-sounding beams, discarded wings, termite droppings (tiny pellets of brown or black wood shavings) or piles of sawdust. An out-of-control termite infestation could cost thousands of dollars in property damages to your home. Termites can devour wood in seconds, creating tunnels within the walls of your home. They can eat your home’s exterior, interior, wooden floors and furniture.

Once you notice termite damage, use a professional pest company to clear your home of the insects. Then, work with your insurance company for possible coverage for termite damage. Most homeowners insurance companies do not offer termite coverage or insurance for other pests. Insurance companies typically see pests as preventable, and thus will not accept liability for related damages. The pest control company, however, may have a treatment plan that includes property repairs.

An important exception is if the termites caused or contributed to another type of home damage your insurance company does cover. Most insurance plans offer coverage for house fires, structural collapses and broken pipes that may have contributed to the termite infestation, for example. If a termite colony caused electrical issues that started a fire and burned your house down, your insurance company may cover the costs to rebuild. The same is true if termite damage was severe enough to cause parts of your home to collapse. Most insurers will also cover the costs of repairs such as internal leaks and water damage.

Negotiating With Your Insurance Provider

It is important to say the right things during a homeowners insurance claim regarding termite damage. If you let on that you knew about the termites yet failed to get rid of them, your insurer may deny coverage. Express that you were unaware of the termites and did not know the havoc they could wreak on your home.

Understand the terms and conditions of your insurance policy before making the call. Most policies, for example, will not cover cracked wood or structural damage from termites. You may need a termite professional to inspect your home and write a comprehensive report of the damages to send to your insurer. Hire an insurance dispute lawyer if you believe your homeowners insurance company is treating your damage claim in bad faith, or if you need help negotiating a settlement.