Most people love their homes, which is why they protect them with homeowners insurance. Unfortunately, termites can also love their homes – as a food source – and often, home insurance policies won’t pay for repairs because they are considered a preventable problem. But there are some situations in which homeowners can file a homeowner’s insurance claim for damages.
How to get homeowner’s insurance to cover termite damage
Homeowner’s insurance for termite damage is similar to homeowner’s insurance for water damage or homeowner’s insurance for tree removal. In most cases, insurers won’t cover it, but they can decide if the termite damage was caused or contributed to the accident.
For example, if a termite chews through electrical wiring in a home and starts a house fire, most homeowner’s insurance will cover the damage caused by the fire. They may also pay for sudden house collapse due to termite damage if the homeowner can prove that there were no obvious signs of damage and that they did not know they had termites in their home.
Or if a covered water damage inspection caused a termite breeding ground, home insurance may cover this if the homeowner can prove that the two factors are related.
But homeowners will have to pay for termite damage that could have been avoided with proper maintenance. For those who don’t know how homeowner’s insurance works, it only pays for claims related to the risks identified in the policy. Since termite damage is not a serious problem, home insurers usually do not have any liability to pay.
Facts about termites
Here are some key facts about termite damage that all homeowners should know:
The cost of repairing termite damage
The actual cost of repairing termite damage will depend on the extent of the damage, but the average cost is about $3,000, according to Orkin. However, homeowners can reduce the problem if they catch it early. And if they continue to take care of the house themselves, they can prevent the spread of termites.
How long does it take for termites to do damage?
It takes about 60,000 termites about five months to eat through a 2×4 piece of wood, according to Terminix. This may not sound like much, but it is this gradual damage that causes termites to go untreated in many homes for years. By the time it is known, they have partially destroyed a large area of the house.
What does termite damage look like?
Some signs of termite damage are:
- Termite drains: Termites dig small mud tubes around their nests. This can be seen near the foundation of a building or anywhere there is exposed wood.
- Damage to wood: The appearance of wooden planks or a dull sound when knocking on wood may indicate that termites have been eating it.
- Buckling floors: If the floor of a house or porch looks like it’s bowing or swaying, that could be a sign that termites have compromised the integrity of the wood that supports it.
- Symptoms of water damage: Sometimes, termite damage looks like water damage at first glance.
- Dead termite: Termites resemble yellow flying ants with two wings. Homeowners may find wings or dead bodies if their home is infested.
Can you buy termite insurance?
Even the best homeowner’s insurance companies do not sell termite insurance. That is why it is important for homeowners to be vigilant and do the things below to prevent termite damage. If they notice that there are termites in their house, they should take immediate action to destroy it and start renovating it.
Homeowners who are worried about termite damage can set up an annual pest control service in their area. They will inspect the home for signs of termite damage and can take corrective action if necessary.
How to prevent termite damage
Here are some steps homeowners can take to reduce the risk of termite damage:
- Remove all wood debris and paper around the foundation of the house and surround the wood at least 20 feet from the house.
- Keep shrubs and grass clippings around the house.
- Make sure all gutters and downspouts are in good condition to prevent moisture from building up around the foundation.
- Seal any gaps in the foundation of the house for stability.
- Get regular termite inspections from a reputable pest control company.
How to repair termite damage
It is not unusual for termites to destroy a house to the point of being impossible to repair. In most cases, it is possible to remove termites and repair the damaged area, although it may cost the homeowner several thousand dollars.
When termites are discovered, the first thing a homeowner should do is get rid of the termites. Otherwise, when they jump in to fix it, termites just start eating the new wood, which causes the same problems.
Most pest control companies are supposed to get rid of termites. It’s best not to proceed with the repair until they give you the all clear.
Then, the next step is to repair the parts of the house that have been damaged by termites. This may involve removing damaged boards and replacing them with new ones or placing a new board next to the old board for support. It is best to leave this work to a licensed contractor, especially when doing woodwork that affects the integrity of the home. Get quotes from multiple contractors to get the best deal.