When you drive down the street, it’s not unusual to see a house “tented” by professional exterminators who are doing their best to eradicate a termite infestation. If you’ve never experienced the pleasure of having to move out of your home for several days while it’s being fumigated, you might want to start investigating the process. Many homeowners are not aware that their home insurance generally excludes damages caused by termite infestation. In fact, damage from insects, rodents, and assorted other critters is all excluded from the policy. Therefore, this is one time where an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure!
Within the standard home insurance policy, it clearly states that damage caused by birds, vermin, insects, or domestic animals is not covered. This is primarily due to the policy’s belief that such causes of damage are matters that take place over time and can be prevented with common sense and maintenance. The insurance policy’s intent is to cover sudden, accidental, unforeseen, and uncontrollable causes of loss. If you are featured on an episode of Hoarders, the insurance company tends not to want to cover your issues.
Therefore, it’s really important that you do follow through with proper maintenance and upkeep of your home. Termite damage is very destructive and sometimes it can take place for a long period of time without your knowledge. The University of Kentucky Entomology Department (those are the folks who study insects) provides some good information about termites and how to spot an infestation. If you are aware of an infestation, you should definitely take action immediately, as it will likely minimize damage and expense. The worst thing to do is wait until your home is on the verge of collapse. Remember, collapse is also excluded from your home insurance policy so then you’re faced with a double-whammy of exclusions!
In addition to termites, infestations of other insects and creatures will also not be covered by your policy. Some homeowners will find that birds build nests in various nooks and crannies of their homes. Not only is this practice potentially damaging to the home, it also brings the possibility of insect infestation. In addition to physical damage to the house, insects can carry disease that will cause illness to human inhabitants of your home. You might be thinking that it’s pretty far-fetched for these things to happen in your home. However, if you have a vacation home that is not lived-in full time, it’s not too difficult for wildlife to invade the premises. For part-time residences, it’s good practice to have a caretaker look in on the home regularly to prevent these types of problems. Raccoons are awfully cute, but can be very destructive once they get into a house.
With all this doom and gloom, you might be encouraged to know that some damages caused by animals are actually covered on your policy. As we mentioned earlier, sudden and accidental damage generally fits the definition of what the home insurance policy covers. Therefore, within the policy’s exclusion for damage caused by animals, it does allow coverage for broken glass. I guess if a bird flies into your window and breaks it, you might consider yourself lucky to be covered by insurance. Unfortunately, it’s not so lucky for the bird!