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Home insurance for termites

Being covered for termite damage is rare, so protect your home against wood-hungry pests.

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Homeowners insurance doesn’t generally cover damage caused by termites, insects or other vermin. Your best bet is to take preventative measures before a termite infestation happens. However, some policies might offer a limited level of coverage in specific situations.

When is termite damage covered by homeowners insurance?

You’ll need to check individual policies for the full details, but there are some situations when termite damage may be covered under homeowners insurance.

A covered event results in termites

Events covered by homeowners insurance that can be shown to be the sole cause of the infestation may result in you being able to claim the damage and cost of treatment.

For example, say a termite-infested tree fell on your home and you couldn’t have prevented it, this may be deemed a covered incident. In order to file a claim, you must be able to show that the home was otherwise maintained well enough to prevent the termite infestation.

Termites cause a covered event

You may be able to claim at least partial assistance when it comes to a peril that’s caused by termites. An example of this might be an electrical fire started by wiring that’s been chewed through.

How much does it cost to treat a house for termites?

The cost of your treatment is going to depend on a number of factors. Doing a simple preventative line of repellent may only run $20, while a full fumigation and return service by a professional pest control company could run you over $3,000.

Factors that affect the total cost include:

  • Type of home
  • Size of home
  • Severity of infestation
  • Type of termites
  • Treatment type

The best treatment will be based on how bad the infestation is, which a licensed exterminator can help with. Some of the main methods of treatment include:

  • Repellent. This is usually the cheaper DIY option for preventing termites, and not a solution for exterminating an existing infestation.
  • Poison. Termiticide is typically designed to be delayed-acting, to give the termites time to carry it back to the nest and spread it around the entire colony. This is to improve the odds of complete elimination.
  • Bait traps. Ongoing termite baiting serviced every month can be a cure, prevention and warning system all in one. It’s also often nontoxic to people and pets in the home.
  • Barriers. A termite-prevention trenching system around the home is combined with a repellent or poison and acts as a prevention system rather than a cure. If there’s an existing infestation it will generally be combined with a repellent or poison.

Tips for dealing with termites in the home

The number one tip? Think like a termite.

As a termite, you burrow through mud and will thrive in damp timber. You’ll be immediately attracted to entry points like damp timber struts beneath a porch or an exposed shed. You might burrow up to make your home in a pile of firewood left in the rain, and then be carried inside and rested on a wooden floor or surface to find your new home. Or you might be lucky enough to get deposited right onto a timber rooftop by a bird or the wind.

Homeowners should:

  • Look out for moisture in and around the home, especially around wooden surfaces.
  • Repair leaks as soon as you’re able.
  • Repair rotting woodwork and other parts as soon as possible.
  • Replace weather stripping and loose mortar around basement foundations and windows.
  • Make sure you have properly-functioning gutters and downspouts that appropriately divert rain.
  • Regularly inspect the foundation of the building and look for signs of mud tubes, uneven or bubbling paint and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Keep an eye on exterior areas of wood, especially around windows, door frames and skirting boards.
  • Maintain a substantial gap — a half-yard minimum, ideally — between the soil and wood portions of your home.
  • Store firewood a decent distance from your home and out of the weather.

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Why doesn’t homeowners cover termites?

Termite damage takes years to accumulate. A properly maintained house can prevent an infestation, and even if you get some you can typically eliminate them before any significant damage or infestation takes place if you act quickly. It’s the same if your property is damaged, like books, clothes or a wooden table — the part of your home insurance that covers your belongings, personal property insurance — likely won’t cover the termite damage.

Since the damage isn’t immediate, and is preventable, it falls on the homeowner to cover.

Bottom line

Homeowners insurance likely won’t cover damage done by termites, so it’s up to you to properly maintain and defend your home. Hiring a pest control service can be costly, but the damage done when an infestation is left untreated can be even more expensive.

Frequently asked questions about termite damage

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