Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Termite Damage?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Termite Damage?

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Termite damage — as well as any insect damage — is generally not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies.

But in some situations, you may be able to get compensation. Read on to familiarize yourself about the nuances of termites and homeowners insurance claims.

When does homeowners insurance cover termite damage?

In the vast majority of cases, homeowners insurance policies will not cover damage caused by termites or any other pest because they're considered preventable. But there are two cases when your homeowners insurance will cover termite damage, up to the limits of your policy:

  • When the house completely collapses from termites.
  • A covered risk or peril causes the termites.

Sudden house collapse

If termites or other vermin cause your home to suddenly collapse, you would be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. But there are certain conditions you have to meet first:

  • Your home collapsed, which means the building fell down and broke into pieces. This doesn't include cracking, shrinking, bulging, expanding, sagging or bowing.
  • The termites were hidden and caused the damage without any reasonable prior knowledge. If you knew of the infestation and didn't stop it, then you likely won't be covered.

Cause of termites is something you're covered for

If a covered risk or peril causes the termite infestation, then you may be covered.

For example, 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, your policy may cover you. That's because internal leaks are typically insured by standard homeowners insurance policies. You can apply this logic to other common covered perils, such as fires, tornadoes and wind damage.

These events can change the structure of your home and lead to a termite invasion, but proving the direct link between the damage and the termites may be hard to do. We recommend hiring a professional to assess your claim.

You also must file a claim for the initial damage caused by the peril.

For example, say extensive wind rips shingles from your roof, leading to a termite infestation. You should file a claim for the roof damage right away and report the termites as soon as you find them. Leaving the shingles unreported can itself be considered an act of neglect, and your insurance company may 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, contact your insurer right away. The company will send a claims adjuster, who may consider the infestation 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're covered, then you're 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, such as electronics or musical instruments, there will be a cap to how much insurers will pay out. Details vary by policy.

What to do if you have uninsurable termite damage

If your homeowners insurance policy doesn't cover the termite damage, there are two major ways to lower the cost of removing the pests.

  • Hire a professional to inspect the termites and provide an estimate for removal. Get multiple quotes if possible, and compare.
  • Based on the size of the infestation, weigh the costs of removing the termites yourself.
The cost of getting rid of termites can range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the extent of the infestation and size of the home.

If you decide to take care of the problem yourself, it's important to accurately assess the size of the infestation. If you don't 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. A professional will ensure the entire 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.

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