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Termites can cause major issues for homeowners. If termites make their way into your home, you may be at risk for a number of damages, like swarming, buckling wood, swollen floors and ceilings, and an odor that smells like mold or mildew. That’s why it’s important to have insurance coverage for this type of damage.
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance and termites:
- Does home insurance cover termite damage?
- When is termite damage not covered?
- How to file a claim for termite damage
- What to do if your termite damage claim is denied
- Frequently asked questions about home insurance and termite damage
Does home insurance cover termite damage?
Home insurance is designed to cover “sudden and accidental” problems. Since termite infestations are typically gradual and can be prevented with routine maintenance, it’s unlikely that your standard homeowners insurance will pay for it. You’ll need to call a pest control professional to treat the issue.
With that said, there might be some exceptions when your policy does cover termite-related damage, including:
- Sudden home collapse: If termites caused your home to collapse, homeowners insurance may kick in. But this will only occur if you didn’t know about the termites because they were hidden in your ceiling or floorboards, for example.
- Termite damage results in a covered peril: Your homeowners insurance may cover you if the termite damage resulted in a covered event. For instance, if termites caused damage to the wiring in your home and that resulted in a fire, your homeowners insurance would likely cover the fire damage. Fire-related damage is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
- A covered peril causes termites: If certain water damage, such as a burst pipe or sudden leak, results in a termite infestation, your insurance provider may pay for the termite-related damages in addition to the water damage. However, the water damage can’t have been a result of neglect or poor maintenance.
Termite damage coverage limits
If your homeowners insurance does cover termite damage to your home, you’ll be entitled to reimbursement up to your policy limits. Standard dwelling coverage is based on the cost to rebuild your home from scratch in the event of a total loss.
This will depend on factors like the age of your home, number of rooms, square footage, style, and local construction and labor costs. Keep in mind that the cost to rebuild your home is different from its fair market value that you may see on a real estate website.
When is termite damage not covered?
In these common situations, homeowners insurance will not pay for termite damage:
- Neglect: As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to maintain your property. If you fail to take steps to prevent termite damage, the infestation won’t be covered by your policy.
- Gradual damage: In most cases, termite damage isn’t sudden. Instead, it develops slowly over time. Since you should notice it and take steps to resolve it, your homeowners insurance won’t pay for gradual damage.
- Personal property damage: Typically, homeowners insurance won’t cover personal property like furniture and instruments that have been damaged by termites. It’ll only take care of the physical structure of your home and any attached structures, depending on its terms.
Learn More: Does Home Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?
How to file a claim for termite damage
If you believe you have a valid homeowners insurance claim for termite damage, follow these steps to file it:
- Contact your home insurance provider. Don’t wait to let your insurer know about the damage. The sooner you reach out to them, the higher your chances of a successful claim.
- Fill out claim forms. Next, you’ll need to complete a few forms to formally file your claim. Be sure to fill them out as soon as possible and submit them in the way your insurer requires.
- Document the damage. Take photos and videos of the termite damage in your home. This documentation can help ensure you receive the maximum settlement (payment for repairs).
- Wait for a claims adjuster. Once your insurance carrier receives your forms, they’ll send a claims adjuster to your home. The adjuster will assess the damage and determine whether you have a valid claim.
- Get repair estimates. Call a few exterminators and contractors to find out how much it’ll cost to repair the termite damage. The quotes you receive can help you negotiate the amount you get from your home insurance provider.
- Receive a settlement. Lastly, your insurer will provide you with a settlement. Be sure you’re comfortable with the amount before you accept.
What to do if your termite damage claim is denied
If your termite damage claim is denied, consider these options:
- Contact your home insurer. First, you might want to dispute your claim with the insurance provider. You can share your photos and videos with a claims manager or someone higher up.
- Hire an attorney or public adjuster. Depending on your situation, it may be worth it to get an attorney or public adjuster involved. These professionals can assist you with the dispute process and point out anything the claims adjuster may have missed.
- Explore mediation. If you pursue mediation, an unbiased third party will help you and your insurance carrier come to a mutual agreement. Reach out to your state’s insurance department to learn more about the mediation programs available.
- File a complaint with your state. You can file a formal complaint with your state’s insurance department, usually online or by mail. If you do so, include any supporting documents to prove your point. Do your research to find out the complaints laws and processes in your state so you know exactly how to file a complaint and when you can expect a response.
Learn More: How to Dispute a Denied Home Insurance Claim
Frequently asked questions about home insurance and termite damage
Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about home insurance and termite damage.
What should you do if termite damage is not covered?
If your homeowners insurance policy excludes termite damage, you’ll need to contact a few exterminators and contractors to evaluate the damage and provide you with quotes.
Since you’ll have to pay for the work out of pocket, choose companies with fair prices and positive customer reviews. Don’t attempt to treat the issue on your own.
How can you prevent termite damage?
To avoid termite damage in the first place, get rid of plants, mulch, firewood, and woody materials that contain cellulose, which is the substance termites eat.
Also, check the foundation of your home for any small cracks and holes. Be sure to seal any that you find to keep termites out.
Finally, don’t forget to schedule an annual termite inspection by a professional exterminator.
How can you spot termite damage?
Many signs of termite damage should be on your radar as a homeowner. These include drooping or discolored drywall, peeling paint, hollow-sounding wood, buckling wooden or laminate floors, crumbling or damaged wood, and maze-like patterns on your floors, walls, and furniture. Piles of wings that look like fish scales and mud tubes in the foundation of your home may also indicate a termite infestation.
How much does termite removal cost?
Termite removal may run you anywhere from $228 to $957 or even more, according to HomeAdvisor. Factors like your location, the company you choose, the size of the infestation, the types of termites in your home (such as drywood termites or subterranean termites), and the type of damage that must be repaired will help determine the exact price.
You might also have to budget for additional costs for things like termite monitoring stations to check for termite activity and termite reappearance, which is common with these aggressive pests.
Should you have a home inspected for termites before buying it?
There’s no federal law that requires a termite inspection before buying a home, but it’s in your best financial interest to request one. Some lenders may also ask for a termite clearance letter that states there’s no evidence of termites or termite damage.
Keep Reading: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?
Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.