Pests: Your Insurer’s Problem or Yours?

No one likes sharing their home with bugs, rodents or other pests. But once the little critters move in and start munching on the walls of your home, the rafters in your attic or the electrical lines in your basement, who’s responsible for the damage: your insurer or you?

Pests: Your Insurer's Problem or Yours?
Pests: Your Insurer’s Problem or Yours?
You may instinctively think the infestation and damage caused by pests are your insurer’s problem. But if that’s your answer, you’re wrong—along with about a third of all homeowners in our country, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
But wait…isn’t that why you pay your homeowners insurance premiums? How can your insurance company refuse to take responsibility for the damage when that’s what you pay it for?
Let’s put it this way: No matter where in the country you live, pests can be a problem. Whether you’re dealing with mice, squirrels, cockroaches, ants, termites, silverfish, fleas, bedbugs or one of a hundred other invading pests, remedying the damage they cause can be expensive and frustrating.
Which is exactly why your home insurance company can’t afford to cover the damage. See, rodents and insects can cause a lot of it—and they’re everywhere. With widespread infestation, insurance companies would go out of business—or be forced to charge customers outrageous premiums—if they had to insure for all home pest repairs.
Termites alone cause an average of $2 billion a year in damage in the U.S.!

So what does your home insurance policy cover?

“Homeowners insurance coverage extends to [the] ‘sudden and accidental,’” Greg Baumann, technical director with the National Pest Management Association, explained to “For example, if you have a pipe that bursts, your insurance will cover it. If you have a slow leak that causes mold, the damage won’t be covered.”
Now that you understand things from your insurer’s point of view, what can you, as a homeowner, do to make sure pests don’t become a problem? What’s the solution to avoiding infestation and damage without emptying your wallet in the process?
Here it is. Ready? Be proactive! Bugs and rodents can live in your walls, basement and attic long before you even discover they’re there. But if you’re willing to take precautions like these and pest-proof your home now, you can avoid the hassle and expense of repairing unnecessary pest damage.
  1. Inspect common entrance areas, like foundations, and around windows, doors, pipes and outlets. Seal cracks and plug holes with caulk or weather stripping.
  2. Keep doors closed to keep pests out. Insects can gain entrance in very tight spaces.
  3. Put pet food in sealed plastic containers and keep them off the floor. Dispose of old, unused food in a timely manner.
  4. Don’t let water build up in gutters. This provides an environment where many pests can thrive and multiply.
  5. Trim vegetation away from your home. Overgrown tree limbs, branches and bushes next to the house provide the perfect bridge between your home and theirs.
  6. Spray your home for insects and set traps for rodents at least once a year—or, if you’d rather, call a professional to do it for you.
Your homeowners insurance policy may not cover the damage pests leave behind; but you can avoid the problem in the first place by taking charge of the situation and staying ahead of the problem yourself.
With a little preemptive action, you won’t have to share your abode with nature’s creatures…and your home insurance rates can remain affordable.

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