Does home insurance cover termites?
Australian home insurance does not generally cover damage caused by termites, insects or other vermin. You will typically find this as an exclusion for damage caused by “animals”, “vermin” or “insects.”
Some policies might offer a limited level of cover in some specific situations though.
How might policies cover termite damage?
You’ll need to check individual policies for the full details, but consider these two policies as an example of how insurers may or may not cover it.
GIO Home Insurance
The policy covers “loss or damage caused by an animal” with the exception of “insects, vermin or rodents” among other things.
It also makes an exception to the exception, by covering insect, vermin or rodent damage if it results in a “fire”- or an “escape of liquid”-insured event.
In this policy’s case, you generally aren’t covered for termite damage unless it somehow results in fire or an escape of liquid. This means you would be covered for the damage caused by the fire or the liquid, rather than the termites themselves.
For example, if for some reason you have a wooden water tank on your property and termites chew through it causing it to leak, then you might be covered for the damage caused by water leaking or flooding from that water tank.
This policy has a general exclusion for damage caused by “vermin and insects.”
This means there is simply no cover under any section of the policy for termite damage.
Is any insect damage covered by home insurance?
For the most part, home insurance won’t cover damage caused by termites, or any other insects or vermin.
This means it’s important to take precautions. Ideally you can prevent an infestation of any kind before it begins but failing that, it’s wise take care of it as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.
How much does it cost to treat a house for termites?
It all depends. The main factors are the size and type of home you have, and the severity of the infestation.
These will likely affect your preferred pest control method, and whether you want a preventative fix or simply want to treat an existing problem.
Some of the main methods include:
- Termite repellent – approximately $200 to $500: This is usually the cheaper option for controlling an existing infestation. It has to be applied directly to the areas of infestation to keep termites away. It will not necessarily remove the entire colony from your home and may only be a short-term solution.
- Termite poison – approximately $400 to $700: This is often the more expensive type of termite spraying/dusting using complex poisons. The poison is designed to be delayed-acting, to give the termites time to carry it back to the nest and spread it around the entire colony, for improved odds of complete elimination.
- Termite baiting – approximately $2,500 to $3,500 per year: Ongoing termite baiting serviced every few weeks can be a cure, prevention and warning system all in one.
- Termite barriers – $2,000-$3,500 one-off: A termite-prevention trenching system around the home is combined with a repellant or poison. Generally lasts approximately eight years. It’s a prevention system rather than a cure, so if there’s an existing infestation it will generally be combined with one of the repellent or poison options.
Note that the above prices are very rough indications only. They are only to give a sense of the cost of different options relative to each other. They should not be used as an indication of how much a treatment might cost you, or how much to expect from a quote.
Tips for dealing with termites in the home
The number one tip? Think like a termite.
As a termite you burrow through mud and will thrive in damp timber. You’ll be immediately attracted to entry points like damp timber struts beneath a home, or exposed piles of firewood. You might burrow up to make your home in a pile of firewood left in the rain, and then be carried inside and rested on a wooden floor or surface to find your new home.
Or you might be lucky enough to get deposited right onto a timber rooftop by a bird or the wind.
A homeowner that looks out for signs of an infestation is your worst fear.
- Look out for moisture in and around the home, especially around wooden surfaces.
- Repair leaks as soon as you are able
- Repair rotting woodwork and other parts as soon as possible
- Replace weather stripping and loose mortar around basement foundations and windows
- Make sure you have properly-functioning gutters and downspouts that appropriately divert rain
- Regularly inspect the foundations of the building and look for signs of mud tubes, uneven or bubbling paint and wood that sounds hollow when tapped
- Keep an eye on exterior areas of wood, especially around windows, doorframes and skirting boards
- Maintain a substantial gap (a half-metre minimum, ideally) between the soil and any wood portions of your home
- Store firewood a decent distance from your home and out of the weather
And consider annual termite inspections. These will probably cost around $250 to $350 but it’s cheaper than thoroughly fixing an infestation, and much cheaper than losing your home to termites.