Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Termites?

by Sandy Baker, Demand Media
    Termites may be present for years before damage is detected.

    Termites may be present for years before damage is detected.

    Homeowners spend $5 billion on products to control termites and repair damage from them each year, according to Termites.com. With more than 600,000 homes in the United States damaged each year by these wood-eating creatures, it's no wonder so many people turn to homeowners insurance seeking help footing the bill. The problem is that most standard policies don't cover termite damage.

    Preventable and Not Covered

    Most insurance companies consider termite damage preventable. With annual inspections and pest control products, it is possible to avoid a termite infestation. When termites do invade your home but are detected early, efforts to eliminate them are often successful. Many homeowners don't realize a problem is occurring, however, until the damage reaches a significant level. Because serious damage takes time to develop, insurers argue that extensive damage signals a homeowner's failure to properly care for the structure and to provide for annual pest inspections.

    Termite Bonds

    It is possible to purchase a termite bond, which is insurance against termites. Homeowners obtain this protection from termite control companies instead of standard insurers. Policies often provide one-year protection from termite damage or infestation for a just-treated home. Should damage occur during a covered period, the pest control company then pays for repairs and re-treatment of the area. Each contract stipulates the types of protection provided, including the repairs and types of re-treatment the company will use. The variable costs of such bonds depends on the home to be treated.

    Specific Exclusions

    In some limited situations, homeowners insurance will cover the cost of termite damage. Examine your policy or contact your insurance agent to determine if your house is covered. Termite-related problems are specifically excluded from many policies. Issuers of such policies honor no claims made for termites or the damage they cause. Other policies are not so specific. If the home collapses from termite damage, policies without specific exclusions may cover the damage.

    Injuries from Termite Damage

    Liability insurance may apply in situations where an individual falls or is otherwise injured on your property in some way that stems from termite damage. According to Mike Potter of the University Of Kentucky College of Agriculture, termites can hide behind walls, under floor coverings, in insulation and other areas, and feed undetected. Should someone step onto a floorboard damaged by an infestation, a homeowner's indemnity insurance policy could cover the individual's resulting medical bills.

    About the Author

    Sandy Baker has been a professional freelance writer since 2004. She is the author of three books in print: "A Complete Guide to Early Retirement," "The Complete Bankruptcy Guide to Consumers and Small Businesses" and "A Complete Guide to Estate Planning." She has studied personal finance and business, and has a degree in English.

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