You pay for homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to guard against any unexpected and hefty bills. It gives you some peace of mind and helps you sleep at night. But what if while you’re sleeping, a colony of termites are eating away at your humble abode – and your savings? Are you covered?
Each year it is estimated that about 600,000 homes are damaged by termites annually, and that this damage costs Americans approximately $5 billion a year in repairs – more than damage caused by tornados, fire and floods combined! Understanding your policy is key and sometimes tricky.
Termites, bedbugs, and other similar nuisances like carpenter bees, are typically excluded from homeowners insurance coverage because they are a preventable problem that can occur because of neglect. A lightning strike isn’t preventable and happens unexpectedly, but a termite infestation grows steadily and could potentially have been avoided with proper maintenance.
This means that you cannot file a claim on the cost of any damage caused by termites, like collapsed beams or broken stairs, with your insurance provider. Even furniture, books, or clothing that sustain termite damage would not be covered by your personal property insurance, since it only protects your items from those same covered perils mentioned above.
Termites are known as “silent destroyers” due to their ability to chew through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected, 24/7, and can compromise the structural stability of a home within several years depending on the species. If you think you have termite damage in your home, here’s what you should do:
- Be aware of the signs of termite damage – walls with bubbling or peeling paint, hollow sounds in the walls, ruined furniture, entry holes, irregular or buckling flooring, discarded wings, mud tubes, etc.
- Start documenting the damage with detailed explanations of what you have observed. Take notes and photos as proof.
- Consult your insurance company or, if necessary, an attorney, to make a property damage claim.
Unfortunately, chances are that your insurance will not cover the damage for a number of reasons that vary from company to company. Most often, policies cover circumstances that are accidental, rapid or sudden, unpreventable or dangerous – such as fire, smoke, lightning strikes, hail, explosions, theft or unexpected water damage. It may feel sudden and overwhelming to you, but the fact remains that termite invasions can be prevented with regular maintenance and inspections by a certified pest control company. So, while you may not be able to purchase insurance to cover termite damage, you can contract with a pest control company for annual inspection and treatment plans that will cost less in the long run.
Bottom line: it’s more expensive to repair termite damage than prevent it. Do you need a professional termite inspection to head off these silent destroyers?