Pests, such as termites, bed bugs and rodents, can damage your home’s structure, as well as your belongings. Some types of pests can carry diseases, and some, such as rodents, can chew through electrical wiring.
Homeowners insurance generally won’t cover pest damage. Under some specific circumstances, however, your insurer may cover all or part of your claim for pest-related damage.
Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover Preventable Damage
In general, homeowners insurance only covers unexpected damage. For instance, if a storm with strong winds damages your roof, your insurance company will most likely cover the cost of repairs or replacement.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage that occurs because the owner failed to make necessary repairs or perform routine maintenance. If, for example, your roof is damaged in a storm, but the roof was already in poor condition because you neglected maintenance for years, your insurer will deny the claim. It may also refuse to pay if a tree has dead branches, you didn’t have it pruned or cut down and it falls on the roof in a storm.
How Homeowners Insurance Applies to Pest Damage
When pests invade a home, it happens gradually over a period of months or years. With routine inspections and maintenance, a homeowner can detect a pest infestation when it’s in the early stages and have the issue taken care of, or possibly prevent a problem altogether. If your house gets damaged by pests, your homeowners insurance company will probably deny a claim on the grounds that you could have prevented the problem or could have dealt with it before it became more serious.
If your home is damaged by an unforeseen event, however, you may be covered. For example, if a rodent chews through an electrical wire and causes a fire that damages or destroys your house and belongings, your insurer will likely cover the claim. If your roof gets damaged in a storm and squirrels get inside the house, your insurance company may cover the damage they cause if the initial roof damage is covered.
How to Protect Your Home From Pests
Pests are attracted to areas with moisture. Use a dehumidifier in your house and seal gaps and cracks to keep moisture out.
Rodents and insects seek shelter in piles of wood and leaves and other forms of clutter. If you have clutter near your house, you’re putting out a welcome mat for pests. It won’t be long before they find their way inside your house. Keep the area around your home clear of debris and trash. If you burn wood in the winter, store it away from the house.
Have your home inspected for pests once a year. Professionals can spot signs of a problem and treat it before it gets worse. Keep records related to pest inspections and treatments so you can show that you kept up with inspections and maintenance if you have to file a homeowners insurance claim in the future.