Does homeowners insurance cover termite damage?
Last updated: May 2022
A termite infestation can cause a lot of damage to your house. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), they cost homeowners an estimated $5 billion a year to control and repair damage.
Is termite damage covered by my insurance policy?
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), many homeowners insurance policies don't cover termite damage or removal. Termite infestations may be prevented with routine home maintenance and is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Are there any scenarios in which homeowners insurance would cover termites?
If termites were to chew through your home's wiring and cause a fire, your insurance company may step in to help pay for the damages, as fire is a covered peril under most policies.
Check your policy to understand exactly what may or may not be covered.
Protecting your home against termites
Scientists at North Carolina State University estimate it typically takes three to eight years for termites to cause appreciable damage. Termites don't only destroy wood, they can also destroy cloth, carpets and paper.
While home insurance won't typically cover damage from termites or other pests — like rodents —there are measures you can take to help prevent infestations in the first place.
To help prevent termite damage to your house, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends:
- Avoiding moisture accumulation by diverting water away from your home's foundation (make sure you have properly functioning gutters, downspouts and splash blocks)
- Regularly checking for changes to all your wooden areas, like windows and doorframes
- Inspecting the foundation of your home bubbling paint, or wood that sounds hollow when you tap it
- Maintaining an 18-inch distance between the wood portions of your home and the soil (termites can still gain access by building so-called shelter tubes or chewing through non-wood materials, but barriers can be built to discourage them)
How to spot termite damage in your home
The type of damage your home suffers often depends on the type of termite you're dealing with. The three most common types are dampwood termites, drywood termites and subterranean termites. Dampwood termites prefer wet wood, drywood termites (which are rare in the U.S.) seek out dry wood.
The NPMA warns that subterranean termites are the most destructive type of termite in the U.S. They can be found in every U.S. state except for Alaska.
NPMA also says signs of termite damage include cracks and tunnels in your home's wooden panels and beams, swollen floors and ceilings and pest droppings. A professional pest control company knows what to look for and will be able to easily identify the insect type.
How to treat termite damage
According to the NPMA, termites cannot effectively be treated by the homeowner alone. If you suspect a termite infestation, you should contact a professional to determine the extent of the damage and the best treatment plan.