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Termite, as well as any insect damage, is generally not covered by standard homeowners policies. There may be certain situations however where you can get some compensation. Read on to familiarize yourself about the nuances of termites and homeowners insurance claims.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Termite Damage?
There are two cases where your homeowners insurance will cover termite damage, up to the limits of your policy:
- When the house completely collapses from termites
- Something (a risk or peril) you're covered for causes the termites
In the vast majority of cases however, homeowners insurance policies will not cover damage caused by termites or any other vermin, insect or pest. Termites differ from other commonly covered hazards in that they are considered preventable. A tornado you cannot prevent; termites rotting the frame of your home you can prevent. This includes damage to the structure of your home as well as your personal possessions.
Sudden House Collapse
If the "sudden, entire collapse of a building or any part of a building" happens due to "hidden insect or vermin damage to a structural member of the building", you would actually be covered in this instance. There are certain conditions you have to meet first. When insurers say "collapse," they mean the building needs to have fallen down and broken into pieces. Collapse does not include "cracking, shrinking, bulging, expansion, sagging or bowing". The termites also had to be hidden, and caused the damage without any reasonable knowledge beforehand. If you knew of the infestation and didn't stop it, then it will be unlikely your homeowners insurer will support you.
Cause of Termites is Something You're Covered For
One of the leading causes of termites is moisture in the home. If that moisture is the direct result of water damage caused by a pipe leak for instance, you may actually be covered. Internal leaks are insured by standard homeowners policies, and if the termites came as a result of that leak, you can make the case that the cost to exterminate the termites should be covered in the same claim. You can apply this logic to any of the common perils your home is covered for: fire, tornadoes, wind damage. These are all things that can change the structure of your home that can lead to termites invading. Proving the direct link between the damage and the termites may be hard to do. We would recommend you hire a professional to assess your claim and offer their own support.
You should have also already filed a claim for the initial damage caused by the peril. If extensive wind ripped shingles from your roof, that claim should have been filed right away. Leaving the shingles unreported can itself be considered an act of neglect, making it likely your insurance company will reject your termite claim.
Filing a Claim When You're Covered
After consulting with a professional and determining you have a valid homeowners insurance claim, you should contact your company as soon as you can. They will send a claims adjuster that may contend the infestation is a result of neglect. The report from your inspector can be used to counter that a professional declared the infestation a direct result of an insurable event.
If you are actually covered, you would be entitled to reimbursement up to the limits of your policy. Standard house dwelling coverage is around $250,000 but can be higher for more valuable homes. If termites get into your personal possessions, like electronics or musical instruments, there will be a cap to how much insurers will pay out (depends on your policy).
What to Do If You Have Uninsurable Termite Damage?
Having uninsurable termite damage is a matter of reducing the costs to get rid of the infestation. The first thing you should do is have a professional come and inspect the termites. They will be able to assess how extensive and widespread it is, as well as the as give you an estimate as to how expensive it will be to fix. Typically the cost of exterminating termites costs between $500 and $5,000 depending on the extent of the infestation and size of the home.
If the infestation turns out to be really tiny, you may actually be able to take care of it yourself for a cheaper price. A helpful Wikihow article list several inexpensive ways to treat termites on your own. We would urge you take caution however. You need to be honest with the size of the infestation because if you decide to take care of it on your own, but do not remove the entire colony, the damage will only continue to grow and become more expensive. In many cases a professional exterminator will be more expensive in the short-term but will be the better investment in the long run. A professional will ensure that all the colony is completely eradicated and will stop growing.
As for the damage to your home, you will need to pay for that on your own as well. Our best advice is to compare quotes from several contractors to ensure you are getting the best prices for repairs.