Most people aren’t too fond of bugs. And Atlanta has plenty of them. As far as your home goes, one of the more destructive bugs out there is the termite. Termites can wreak havoc on your house – it’s estimated that termites, the creepy crawly little fiends, cost Americans over $5 billion dollars each year. Yikes. So, what if termites take up residence in your home? Does home insurance cover termite damage?
We’ll answer this question, explain how to prevent a buggy nightmare, and tell you some signs of termite infestation below.
Does home insurance cover termite damage?
Unfortunately, the answer to that is most likely no, homeowners insruance will not cover termite damage.
There’s a reason:
Home insurance is intended to protect your home from sudden and accidental loss – for example, a fire. It’s not meant to cover maintenance issues or “preventable” gradual losses…and unfortunately, termite damage fits the bill of “not covered.”
Something to know about termites:
Termites eat wood from the inside out and leave the surface pretty much untouched. So you may not even detect them until you’ve got a problem. Termite damage can be severe and can even cause structural damage to your home.
And that leads us to our next topic of joyous, bug-related discussion.
How can I prevent termite damage to my home?
Myth: Homes have to be mostly wood to be affected by termites. Brick homes are fine.
Fact: Termites can affect any home because they eat through plaster, metal, and siding. Then they move on to devour wooden items inside the home – cabinets, furniture, anything.
Termites are typically most “active” in the late spring and summer. They actually swarm – meaning, fly from their former colony to descend on a new place. Different types of termites swarm at different times of the year. Subterranean termites move in spring, dry wood termites move in late summer, and damp wood termites move in summer. They typically like these times of year because of the rain and humidity.
Now, we say all that not to gross you out – yes, termites can fly – but to explain that now is the time to fortify your home.
Here’s how to do that:
1. Take away the termites’ food and water.
Make sure your home isn’t a termite buffet by…
- Placing firewood at least 20 feet from your home
- Leaving a 6-12 inch gap between mulch or soil and wooden pieces of the house (mulch attracts them because it retains moisture.)
- Making sure any plants are at least three feet away from the house
- Angling sprinklers away from the foundation
2. Don’t bring home wood.
Don’t bring wood or lumber to your home unless it’s been specially treated to deter termites. Most lumber is, but it never hurts to make sure.
3. Keep your vents clear.
Making sure your vents are clear can help you get dry air circulating through your home. Termites like moisture, so you can thwart them by keeping the air fresh.
4. Air out your attic and basement from time to time.
By airing out your attic and basement, you introduce clean air to places that can get damp or moist, helping them to dry out.
5. Fix any possible “doors.”
You’ve got to fill in or fix any cracks in your home’s foundation to prevent any unwanted guests from moving in.
6. Prevent moisture from accumulating along your home’s foundation.
Termites love moisture. Make sure the ground or landscaping slopes away from your house, your sprinklers point away from the house and your downspouts are arranged properly. Fix any leaks that could be causing a buildup of moisture.
The signs of termite damage
It’s important to recognize termite damage so that you can call in professional pest control folks early on. The sooner you catch the infestation, the better.
Here are some warning signs:
- Drywall that looks discolored or funky
- Walls that look water damaged
- Small holes in your drywall
- Loose tiles or super squeaky floorboards
- Decimated wood
- Doors and windows that won’t stop getting stuck
- Maze-like patterns over the walls or furniture
- Termite droppings
- Wings that look like scales (termites drop their wings after they swarm and land at their new home)
- Mud tubes along the side of the house
- Airborne termites
It’s generally a good idea to have a termite inspection once a year. That way you can catch a termite disaster before it gets out of control.
So that’s the scoop about termites. Unfortunately, termite damage is not typically covered by home insurance. However, there are steps you can take to prevent a termite infestation. Be sure to keep your home safe from this many-legged peril.
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