Insurance companies consider pest infestations to be a home-maintenance issue. That means your standard homeowners policy usually doesn't cover pest-related damage.
Most policies include an exclusion for damage caused by birds, vermin, rodents, insects or animals owned or kept by the policyholder.Why? Because it falls upon the homeowner to maintain the property. For example, an annual termite inspection and treatment would head off an infestation and resulting damage
There are a few situations in which a homeowners policy will cover damage involving animals. For example, if an animal causes a fire in your house, the fire damage is covered.
Standard homeowners policies cover the collapse of a home if hidden insect or vermin damage caused it However, the actual damage done by the insects or vermin is not covered. For example, say termites eat a support beam under a home, and the home collapses. The cost to replace the beam is $2,000. The damage to walls, floors and roof trusses is about $25,000. The $2,000 beam is not covered, but the other damage is, Thompson says.
Termites cause between about $2.5 billion and $5 billion in damage to American homes annually.
Here are some pest-prevention tips from the EPA and the NPMA:
Outside your home
Remove piles of wood from under or around your home to avoid attracting termites and carpenter ants.
Destroy diseased plants and fallen fruit that might harbor pests.
Rake fallen leaves.
Keep vegetation, trees, shrubs and wood mulch at least 18 inches away from your home.
Remove tree branches that touch your home.
Clean up pet droppings from your yard. They attract flies that can spread bacteria.
Do not let litter or garbage accumulate. It draws mice, rats and other rodents.
Drain off or sweep away standing puddles of water, which are breeding places for mosquitoes and other pests.
Inside your home
Do not let water accumulate in or around your home. Fix leaky plumbing. Remove or dry out water-damaged and wet materials. Dampness or high humidity can attract pests.Store food in sealed glass or plastic containers.
Keep your kitchen clean and free from cooking grease and oil.
Do not leave food in pet bowls on the counter or floor for long periods of time.
Put food scraps or trash in tightly covered, animal-proof garbage cans.
Empty your garbage frequently.
Caulk cracks and crevices to control pest access. Make sure doors have gaps no larger than 1/4 inch between the floor and the bottom of the door.
Bathe pets regularly.
Avoid storing newspapers, paper bags and boxes for long periods of time.
Check for pests in packages or boxes before carrying them into your home.
Install screens on floor drains, windows, heating and air conditioning vents, and doors to discourage crawling and flying pests from entering your home.
Make sure any passageways through the floor are blocked.
Place weatherstripping around doors and windows.
Caulk and seal openings in walls.
Improve ventilation in crawl spaces.