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Most people love their homes, which is why they protect them with homeowners insurance. Unfortunately, termites might love their homes too -- as a food source -- and most of the time, home insurers won't pay for the repairs because it's viewed as a preventable issue. But there are a few situations where homeowners might be able to file a successful home insurance claim for termite damage.
Homeowners insurance coverage for termite damage is similar to homeowners insurance for water damage or homeowners insurance coverage for tree removal. Most of the time, insurers won't cover it, but they may in select circumstances if the termite damage was caused by or led to a covered peril.
For example, if termites chewed through electrical wires in a home and started a house fire, most homeowners insurance policies would pay for the fire damage. They might also pay for a sudden home collapse due to termite structural damage if the homeowner can prove that there were no obvious signs of damage and that they had no idea they had termites in their home.
Or if a covered water damage claim created a breeding ground for termites, a home insurer may cover this if the homeowner can prove the two things are connected.
But homeowners will have to foot the bill for run-of-the-mill termite damage that could have been prevented with proper maintenance. For those unfamiliar with how homeowners insurance works, it only pays for claims related to perils specifically identified in the policy. Since termite damage isn't a covered peril, home insurers usually don't have any obligation to pay for it.
Here are some key facts about termite damage all homeowners should know:
The exact cost of termite damage repair will depend on how extensive the damage is, but the average cost is about $3,000, according to Orkin. However, homeowners may be able to remedy the situation for less if they catch the problem early. And if they stay on top of their routine home maintenance, they might be able to prevent a termite outbreak altogether.
It takes a colony of about 60,000 termites about five months to eat through a 2x4 piece of wood, according to Terminix. That may not sound like much, but it's precisely this slow pace of damage that allows termites to go unchecked in many homes for years. By the time they're detected, they may have caused minor damage to large areas of the home.
Some common signs of termite damage are:
Even the best homeowners insurance companies don't sell termite insurance policies. That's why it's important for homeowners to stay vigilant and take the steps listed below to prevent termite damage. If they notice any signs of termites in their homes, they should take immediate action to exterminate them and begin repairs.
Homeowners who are worried about missing potential termite damage may be able to set up an annual inspection with a pest control service in their area. They will survey the home for any signs of termite damage and can take steps to resolve the problem if necessary.
Here are some steps homeowners can take to reduce their risk of termite damage:
It's uncommon for termites to damage a home beyond repair. Often, it's possible to get rid of a termite colony and fix the damaged areas, though it may cost the homeowner several thousand dollars.
Upon realizing there's a termite infestation, a homeowner's first step should be to get rid of the termites. Otherwise, if they jump right to the repairs, the termites will just begin eating away at the new wood, eventually leading to the same issues.
Most pest control companies should be able to remove the termites. It's best not to proceed with any repairs until they give you the all clear.
Then, the next step is to repair the parts of the home that the termites damaged. This could involve replacing damaged boards with new ones or putting a new board next to the old board to act as a support. It's best to leave this work to a licensed contractor, especially when dealing with wood that affects the structural integrity of the home. Get quotes from several contractors to find the best deal.
Typically, the homeowner is responsible for termite damage. However, there are a few situations where a home insurance company might pay for a termite-related claim. For example, if termites cause a covered peril, like a house fire, most insurance companies would cover that.
Homeowners usually have to pay for termite damage out of their own pockets unless their case is one of the rare ones covered by home insurance. Usually, homeowners must pay a pest control service to remove the termites and then a contractor to fix the damage the termites did to the home.
If a homeowner realizes their house has termites, it's usually best to call in professionals. Contact a local pest control company and ask them to survey the situation and give an estimate for the repairs.
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