Does Owners Insurance coverage Cowl Termites? – Forbes Advisor


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It’s unlikely that termites will ever anchor a film series like a Tyrannosaurus Rex does. But those pesky bugs deserve some respect. Both animals come from the Cretaceous Period. And then there was mass extinction. The T. rex didn’t make it, but the termites did.

And now, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), termites are responsible for about $ 5 billion in property damage every year.

Does the home contents insurance cover termite damage?

Here’s a big scare: Home insurance does not cover termite damage.

Household contents insurance covers problems that are considered to be “sudden and accidental”. Termite damage is slow and can be prevented by maintenance. Home insurance does not cover problems caused by poor maintenance.

The home insurance does not pay any fees for termite extermination or preventive measures. These costs are considered part of routine maintenance of a home.

There may be rare exceptions when home insurance covers a termite problem. For example, if termites have eaten their way through the wiring in your house and lead to a house fire, your home insurance will usually cover the damage caused by the fire.

How to recognize termite damage

Here are some common indicators of a termite problem:

  • Termite tunnel. Termite tunnels look like muddy tubes and often have a tendril pattern. You can find them near the house foundation.
  • Wood damage. Termites carve maze-like patterns into wood.
  • Hollow sounding wood. Termite damage is often hidden. Knock the wood all over your house and listen for a hollow sound.
  • Cracks and holes. Termites can cause cracks in beams and small holes in wood and walls.
  • Irregular or sagging floors. If your floors are buckling, it could be caused by termites.
  • Buckling ceilings or walls. Termites that bury themselves in wood can buckle and sag in ceilings and walls.
  • Actual termites. They can look like flying ants.
  • Potted wings. Swarm termites break off their wings and look for places where they can settle. Finding discarded wings in your home doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infestation in your home, but there may be colonies living in your yard.
  • Termite feces. Drywood termites leave tiny feces that can look like salt and pepper.

What is a termite?

Termites are social insects that live in colonies that are usually found in wood or in the ground. Termites feed on the cellulose in wood and wood by-products such as paper. A colony is usually made up of three types of termites:

  • Soldier. The role of a soldier termite is to defend the colony. Soldiers do not reproduce or look for food. Soldier termites are pale red, light brown, or white. They are taller than average with heads darker than their bodies and protruding jaws. Soldier termites have no wings.
  • Enthusiast. Swarm termites are responsible for reproduction. These termites are dark brown or black and about four millimeters long. Swarm termites have two pairs of wings that lie flat over their belly when not in use.
  • Workers. Worker termites maintain the colony, build and repair the nest, and look for food for the colony. Workers are cream-colored and about three to four millimeters long. Worker termites have no wings.

Termites are found in all 49 states except Alaska. Termites thrive in warmer climates such as the south, southeast, southwest, and west. There are three main types of termites in the United States:

  • Subterranean termites. These termites nest in the ground and feed on the wooden structure of houses. Subterranean termites are found in all states except Alaska and are more common in southern states and hotter climates.
  • Dry wood termites. These termites nest in the dry wood of wooden structures, floors, frames, and furniture. These termites are primarily found in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Mississippi.
  • Formosa termites. These are known to be the most aggressive and destructive termites. They destroy wood by drilling tunnels through walls. Formosa termites are found in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Most termite species cannot crawl in open ground like other insects (like ants) and build mud pipes to get from their colony to food sources (like your home). Some species of termites (including subterranean termites) can remain active year round, eating wood 24 hours a day.

How do I prevent termites?

Termite damage can be difficult to spot, and if you see signs of termite activity, significant damage can already be done. That is why it is wise to take preventive measures.

It is a good idea to have an inspection carried out by a termite specialist who can not only identify existing damage and termite activity, but also identify areas in your home that could be prone to termite problems. You may want to consider an annual inspection.

Here are other steps you can take to prevent termite damage:

  • Regularly check wood areas of your home (such as door frames and window frames) for signs of termite damage
  • Keep plants and mulching two to three feet from the house
  • Prevent moisture from building up near your home by making sure your storm drains are empty a few feet from the foundation
  • Repair leaking taps, gutters and roofs
  • Remove dead trees, branches, and other dead plants around or near your home
  • Do not stack firewood next to the house
  • Do not use untreated wood on your home, patio, fencing, or other structure