Why termites generally aren’t covered by homeowners insurance

Insurers typically view termites as avoidable and a result of the homeowner’s negligence. Your homeowners insurance is designed to cover you for sudden or accidental events and, unfortunately, termite damage is neither. Be sure to take precautions to prevent an infestation before it begins. Remember, by the time you suspect you have termites, it’s probably too late.

How to prevent termites

Termites are as tiny as they are devastating and can go undetected for years, but here are some things you can do to stop them from feasting on your home’s structure:

  • Keep plants and mulch two to three feet away from your home
  • Stop moisture accumulation by making sure your storm drains empty a few feet from your home’s foundation
  • Repair leaky faucets, roofs, and gutters
  • Termites start to “swarm,” when the winter weather turns into spring, often after rainfall; they’re attracted to light, so turn off outdoor lights during swarming season
  • Obtaining a pest inspection from a certified pest inspector is always worthwhile (even if you don’t think you have termites)
  • Don’t stack firewood next to your house, as that can attract termites
  • Use treated wood everywhere. This includes your home, deck, wood fences, etc. because untreated wood can attract termites.

Signs of termites

Termites enter your home through the ground or by air and immediately begin laying eggs to form a colony. Subterranean termites only eat softwood and build nests underground, so they can be difficult to spot. You may not notice interior damage until you’ve been dangerously infested, leading to swollen floors and ceilings. Drywood termites feed on wood structures, and dwell inside walls and furniture. After an infestation, you may see peeling paint, faint lines on drywall or cracking in your home‘s wooden beams or panels. Other signs you have termites:

  • Swarming insects, with equal wing length, around a light source (other insects will have unequal wing lengths)
  • Discarded wings of equal length near windowsills or caught in spider webs. Termites don’t keep their wings for long
  • Since termites eat through your home from the inside out, the wood will typically sound hollow

How to treat termites

A termite infestation can cost you thousands of dollars in damage repair alone. That’s before paying for removal and other issues termites might cause (mold, health issues, and problems selling your home). If you suspect or have evidence of termites, your best bet is to contact an exterminator immediately. Exterminators can be expensive, so here are the two most common DIY options for combatting termites. Note that the options are typically complex, so consulting a professional is always recommended.

Soil treatments: Liquid termiticides make it difficult for termites to move through soil. The chemical treatment is designed to obstruct termites from entering your home from the outside.

Baiting: Baits can be installed underground in your yard or inside your home where termites have colonized. With baiting, you’ll avoid having to deal with the termiticides necessary for soil treatments.

Learn more about what home insurance policies typically cover.