Entomologists have known for some time that termites are the wood-eating species of the cockroach. They have been on the planet for around 100 million years and are showing no signs of becoming extinct any time soon. Every year these tiny insects cause billions of dollars in damage around the world, with an estimated 5 billion of that in the United States alone.
It is no wonder that the thought of a termite infestation can cause the equivalent of a panic attack in any homeowner. These destructive little creatures eat wood, and that includes the beams that support your house. They will munch on flooring, ceilings, furniture, and cabinets. They can even eat through plaster and metal.
Termites can be in a house, causing damage for years without the homeowner being aware of them. And by the time they are discovered, the damage they have instigated can be extensive. It could require breaking into floors and walls to replace ravaged wooden foundations.
All of this leads to the first question that most homeowners have after finding out they have termites in their home:
Does home insurance cover termite damage?
Home insurance does not cover pest control. It is intended to cover risks and damage that are sudden and accidental. Termites do not appear suddenly. You might suddenly find out that you have been sharing your home with them, but they could have been there for years, eating away while you provided them with food and water.
Since termite infestations can usually be prevented with routine home maintenance, your homeowners insurance will not cover termite damage or removal.
Can homeowners purchase termite insurance?
Insurance companies typically do not sell termite insurance, but many pest control companies offer plans that include an annual inspection and treatment if needed. These plans are not termite insurance. However, there are termite bonds, which are renewable contracts that are closely related to insurance coverage. These are popular with people who live where termites are plentiful or have neighbors who have had termite problems.
Do termites eat electrical wiring?
Termites have strong pincer-like mandibles. As their invading army moves through the cavities behind your wall, they will chew through any wiring that is in their path. This could put a homeowner in danger as there is a risk that damaged wiring might cause an electrical short, which could result in a fire. It could be very serious if the short happens out of the blue or while you are sleeping.
It is worth noting that termites thrive on wood cellulose. Many older electric wires also contain cellulose, and termites are especially attracted to them, making short circuits and fires that much more prevalent in termite-infested older homes.
Will homeowners insurance cover a fire caused by termites?
If your foundation, floors, or ceiling have been damaged as a result of termites, your homeowners insurance will not help pay to repair or replace them. But are there any instances where homeowners insurance will cover termites?
There are some cases in which your home insurance might be willing to help cover damage when termites are involved. One example, you will probably be covered if termites chewed through the wiring in your home and caused a fire. All home insurance policies cover damages caused by fire.
Another possible exception could be the case where a broken pipe causes water to leak in your basement, resulting in water damage (a covered peril) and a subsequent termite infestation. That scenario is a bit of a stretch, however, since you would need to prove that sequence of events.
How can I find termites in my home?
Termites are not easy to spot, but there are a few telltale signs to help you:
- Wood damage: Each type of termite has a unique pattern in the way they damage the wood. One of the most common patterns looks like a carved maze on the wood. But not all damage is visible. So, it is a good idea to also tap on the wood throughout your house with a screwdriver and listen for a hollow sound.
- Uneven flooring: If your floor sags or buckles, this could mean the presence of termites. What looks like water damage could actually be caused by these destructive pests.
- Tunnels around the foundation: These tunnels are small tubes that look like mud, and they could be in a vine pattern on the walls or floors.
- Flying ants: Termites resemble flying ants, but they are a pale-yellow color with straight antennae, while the antennae of ants are hooked. Termites have two sets of identical wings, and you may find these after they have fallen off in places they have been.
Call a pest control company to confirm your findings. You will need them anyway to rid your home of the menace.
A few tips from professionals to help you protect your home from termites
- Keep moisture from accumulating by diverting water away from your home’s foundation
- Remove any vegetation that is growing over vents
- Take out old tree stumps and roots near the house
- Maintain at least 18″ between the wood portions of your house and the soil
Talk to an insurance professional at White Cloud Insurance to talk more about home insurance coverage and termite damage. Let us find a policy that gives you the best possible protection. White Cloud Insurance is an independent insurance agency in Miami, Florida, representing some of the finest and most reputable insurance companies in the industry.