As a homeowner, you should be aware that many things can cause damage to your home but they are not always covered by home insurance. The good news is that many of these uncovered damages are easily preventable. The home insurance policy is generally designed to protect you from sudden and unexpected damage, such as a wildfire or a runaway truck crashing into your wall. Damage that you can actually prevent or control through diligent home maintenance, such as damage from termite and other pest infestation, is generally excluded from the policy.
Most people think of termites when you mention pest infestation but the home insurance policy actually excludes a lot more than just termite damage. In fact, the policy specifically states damage caused by birds, vermin, rodents, insects, or domestic animals is not covered. With that broad of a description, you must be vigilant when it comes to preventing any damage as it will otherwise be on your dime to repair. As the old expression goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of the home insurance policy, this definitely makes good sense.
To prevent damage to your home, you should approach each type of pest in a slightly different way, as they require different approaches.
The experts at PestWorld.org offer some prevention techniques that you can implement at home. Most termites enjoy a damp area and the best way to minimize your exposure is to keep water sources away from your home, particularly the portions constructed of wood. This means that your foundation and sidewalls should not be constantly damp. You should also make sure to seal off entry points for termites, as they need a way in to cause damage. Here are some specific techniques to help prevent termites from eating your home.
- Create a barrier between your home and the surrounding the soil. There are certain types of materials that can be applied to inhibit the termites’ progress in attacking your home. An even better barrier is to chemically treat the soil as that will prevent the termites from living in the soil immediately in contact with your home.
- Keep mulch, dead trees, stumps, and roots away from your home. Termites will find both shelter and food in these dead wood materials so you need to keep them from making the leap onto your home from these materials.
- Regularly inspect and keep plumbing in good operating condition. This means you must repair any leaks from pipes, faucets, and hoses around your home. If your home has a crawlspace, you’ll need to inspect underneath as well.
- Plant vegetation at least three feet away from your home. Your lawn and shrubbery should not be planted directly up against your home.
In addition to the prevention techniques, you should also perform regular inspections of your home’s exterior. If you see anything that might appear to be termite damage, it’s time to call in the professional exterminator. Once termites have started eating your home, they won’t stop. Think of your house as a tasty all-you-can-eat buffet for termites. By having them removed prior to any further damage taking place, you can save on some expensive and uninsured repairs.
Unlike termites, other pests who invade your home may not have a great interest in devouring it. Instead, they may simply be looking for a nice place to live and perhaps an alternate food source. Some insects and animals might enjoy your food as much as you do and also enjoy your nicely climate-controlled home, protected from the harsh elements outside. Unfortunately, these unwanted visitors can sometimes cause significant damage to your house and may even pose a health risk to you and your family.
To prevent damage from these intruders, your first line of defense is to prevent them entry into your home. Unlike termites, some insects will invade not just at ground level. For example, birds will make nests in high areas of your home that you may not even see or be able to access. The same goes for squirrels that can climb around your house’s exterior and easily leap to the roof from a nearby tree. These creatures can be very destructive and the damage they cause is not covered by your policy. The best prevention is to bar them entry into your home by making sure your vulnerabilities are sealed. It doesn’t have to be a very large opening for insects or rodents to find a way into your home.
- Find any openings from the outside and seal them tightly. Remember, your home will have some inherent openings to allow for vents and pipes. The area around these openings should be properly caulked to defend against unwanted intruders. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel.
- Eliminate any food sources that can attract and sustain pests. Unlike termites who are happy to simply eat your home, other pests may enter your home because you have appealing food easily available to them. Make sure your food is in tightly sealed containers that cannot be easily broken into by insects and small animals.
- Pet food for your family pets can also be a source of attraction for insects and other animals. Instead of leaving food out all day, feed your pets at set times and then remove and wash the dishes immediately.
- Trim your trees and bushes to avoid direct contact with your home as they are great launching pads for rodents into your home. You will also have the secondary benefit of helping prevent fires from spreading to your home.
However, despite your best efforts, if they have somehow managed to enter then you should hire a professional to have them removed. These are experts who deal with similar situations on a regular basis and know the proper way to eradicate an infestation. To find a good exterminator, you should consider the following:
- Make sure you have a full, written proposal that outlines the entire cost of services proposed before agreeing to any work.
- Some pest control companies are affiliated with national organizations such as the National Pest Management Association’s QualityPro program, which requires them to have passed certain standardized tests.
- Never underestimate the value of references and recommendations from trusted friends and family members. Service companies rely on good word-of-mouth and will work hard to earn referrals.
You need to deal with the situation immediately as each day of delay is the potential for more damage and of the invaders multiplying as they reproduce.
Remember that the best prevention measures do not always work. Even if they are not foolproof, this does not mean you shouldn’t make all efforts to prevent an infestation. Despite preventative efforts, you need to be observant of what goes on in and around your home. It’s sort of like when pilots walk around the outside of their plane before each flight. There’s only so much maintenance and gauges will tell you. Regularly walking around your house and looking for something amiss will allow you to take the necessary eradication steps before any damage becomes worse.