How Pests Affects Homes, Your Insurance Policy & Your Savings

10 Jun
Pests Affecting Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

Home insurance companies believe that the damage could have been prevented if you had properly inspected and maintained your home, eradicating the pests before they damaged your house.

Household pests can take many forms. Everything from termites to mice, raccoons, birds, bats and rats just to name a few. While most of them are small, they can cause serious damage to your house, damage that will probably not be covered by your homeowners insurance.

Insurance companies consider the majority of pest infestations and the considerable damage they do to be maintenance issues. They believe that the damage could have been prevented if you had properly inspected and maintained your home, eradicating the pests before they damaged your house.

All of this means that you are on the hook for the cost of any repairs, which can be considerable, that are necessary due to a pest infestation. According to industry experts, homeowners insurance is meant to cover sudden and accidental damage. As an example, a pipe that freezes and bursts would be covered whereas a slow leak that fills your walls with mold would not be covered.

If the pests eventually cause so much damage that it causes your roof or wall to collapse, that damage would be covered. As an example, if termites eat through a support beam and your roof caves in, the roof damage would be considered sudden and accidental. While your roof will be repaired, you will still have to pay to replace the support beam that collapsed due to termite damage.

Many Pests Are Excluded

While termites are definitely excluded from coverage, they are not alone. Exclusions will vary by insurer but in most cases, birds, rats, mice, bats and other common pests are not covered.

According to experts, insurers are becoming more specific about exclusions and the list continues to grow. Insurers want to be clear about what is covered and what is not covered so there is no confusion when it comes time to make a claim.

It’s not just pest damage that is making the exclusion list. A number of issues have been declared maintenance issues which means that the owner will be responsible for paying for damages that involve any of the following:

  • Flood and earthquake damage
  • Ice damage to pavement, fences, decks or patios and even swimming pools
  • Pet damage
  • Foundation cracks or settling

Be Aware and Maintain Your Home

Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from pest damage and how to make sure you don’t end up on the wrong end of a denied claim.

  • Read your homeowners policy and make sure that you have a complete understanding of what is covered and what isn’t. This way you will know what protection you have and will not be surprised if you want to make a claim. If your policy has a long list of exclusions, you may want to shop your policy, cheap insurance is no bargain if it doesn’t actually cover anything.
  • Determine what pests could be a problem in your area. If termites are a common problem, have your home inspected on a regular basis and treat any damage that is found before it gets out of hand. The same goes for mice and rats. If you suspect you have a problem, immediately call in a professional and have the situation assessed.
  • If you are in the process of buying a home make sure you have an inspection done by a qualified inspector. Be sure the inspection covers vermin and pest infestations. If the inspection turns up any issues, make sure the current homeowner addresses them or back out of the sale.
  • Consider hiring a pest-control firm to spray your home on a regular basis. Look for companies that offer a one-year guarantee.

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