Does home insurance cover 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 homeowners insurance.

Can termites actually damage my home?

According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause $5 billion in property damage each year. Termites eat wood, including the support beams in your house or the walls. They dine on cabinets, flooring, furniture and ceilings, and can eat through plaster and metal.

Termites can live in the home and cause damage for years before they’re discovered. Unfortunately, by the time people discover they have termites, the pests have caused a lot of damage. Repair might mean opening walls and flooring to replace the devastated home foundations, in addition to replacing furniture or other affected items.

How can I find termites in my home?

To the untrained eye, termites are difficult to spot. But once you understand some of the telltale signs, they’re easier to see.

  • Termite tunnels: Look for termite tunnels around your home’s foundation and areas where there’s exposed wood. These tunnels are small tubes that look like mud, and might be in a vine pattern on walls, floors or even outside.
  • Wood damage: Look for damage, including what looks like a carved maze on the wood. Different types of termites damage wood in disparate patterns, though, so be aware that not all wood destruction follows this pattern. Try tapping on wood throughout the house with a screwdriver and listen for a hollow sound in case the termites have burrowed inside with no visible exterior damage.
  • Irregular flooring: Buckling or sagging floors can also indicate the presence of termites. What looks like water damage could actually be destruction from these pests.
  • The pests themselves: Termites look a lot like flying ants, but they’re a pale yellow color with straight antennae (ants have hooked antennae). Termites have two sets of identical wings. You may find wings that have fallen off in locations where they have been. 

If there’s any question about whether you have termites, call a pest control company to conduct a thorough inspection.

Can I get termite insurance?

Insurance companies generally don’t sell termite coverage, but some pest control companies offer plans for annual inspection and treatment. Before buying a home, you should have it inspected for termites. If there is termite damage, you can renegotiate the home price or have the seller repair the damage before the purchase goes through. It’s easier to tent a house for fumigation before you move in.

It pays to be aware of the destruction termites can wreak and to inspect your house regularly to catch any damage sooner rather than later. Learn more today about what homeowners insurance covers.

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