Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Termite Damage?

Thu Sep 6 2018

The shortest and most common answer here is no, home insurance usually doesn’t cover termite damage. But the good news, as with much in the world of insurance, is that the answer for any particular case depends on the specifics.

Is Termite Damage Ever Covered by Home Insurance?

Let’s look at two termite-damage scenarios and whether homeowners insurance is likely to offer coverage.

Scenario 1: Damage to Your Home Caused by Termites

Termites can do a lot of damage. They can weaken the foundation and support structures of your home and cause sections of it to collapse, which is obviously dangerous. But most insurance policies don’t cover this damage – in other words, most home insurance won’t pay to send an exterminator out and eradicate the bugs or to repair the structures damaged by termite activity.

Why? Because termite damage is usually seen as a maintenance issue. As we’ve mentioned before, home insurance policies don’t cover damage from wear and tear because part of the contract of the insurance policy is that the homeowner maintains the quality of the house itself.

In other words, while you might want to make a claim for the termite damage, your insurance provider will likely point out that the damage wouldn’t have happened if you had properly maintained your property (more on that in a minute).

Scenario 2: A Covered Peril Caused by Termite Damage

There are some situations, however, where home insurance might indirectly cover damage caused by termites. For example, in a scenario where termites eat through electrical wires and cause a fire, your insurance may cover the damage from the fire.

Similarly, if termites eat through a dead tree branch near your home, and that branch falls on your roof, your policy would likely pay for the related damage.

But every policy is different, so read yours (or talk to your agent) if you have questions about your specific circumstances.

How to Prevent Termite Damage and Protect Your Home

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering how you can prevent termite damage in the first place. The good news is that general home maintenance activities should go a long way toward keeping an infestation at bay. Specifically, be sure to do the following:

  • Eliminate wood where termites can get to it easily (e.g., in your foundation).
  • Regularly check for (and repair) water damage, especially to your home’s wood structures. Termites love wood that’s been softened by water.
  • Maintain water drainage fixtures in and around your home: gutters, downspouts, sprinkler systems, etc. This prevents the kind of water damage that makes environments more inviting for termites.
  • Know what to look for: tiny wings near windows and doors, “mud tubes” where your house meets the ground, and wood damage. If you suspect an infestation, take action as soon as possible to limit the damage.

And if you do suspect infestation, the National Pest Management Association recommends getting estimates from at least two pest control professionals. It also strongly encourages homeowners to rely on professionals here. A little extra investment upfront can prevent a recurrence.

Interested in learning more about the ins and outs of homeowners insurance? Find out when and how mold damage might be covered.