Carpenter ant damage

Standard home insurance policies don't usually cover pest-related damage, including the damage done by carpenter ants, though there are some exceptions. It's best to take the necessary precautions to keep your house free of ants, termites, moths, and other pests because your home insurance won't pay the repair bills.

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When does homeowners insurance cover carpenter ant damage?

There are a few situations in which a homeowners policy will cover damage involving animals or insects. For instance, if one caused a fire in your house, the damage would be covered.

What if an infestation causes your roof or foundation to collapse?

Under standard homeowners policies, the collapse of a home is covered if hidden insect or vermin damage caused it, explains David Thompson of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. "Hidden" means the homeowner can't see the damage.

But here's an important distinction: the damage resulting from a collapse is covered, but the actual damage done by the insects or vermin is not.

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 covered, Thompson says.

Now that you know it's your job to protect your home from pests, do you know how to battle bugs, bats, and birds? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a Virginia-based trade association representing more than 4,000 professional pest control companies, suggest homeowners prevent infestation by using an approach called "integrated pest management." It combines several methods, such as proper waste management, maintenance, and pesticides.

Key Takeaways

  • Standard home insurance policies often do not cover pest-related damages, including damage done by carpenter ants.
  • Pest and insect control should be routine home maintenance to avoid preventable infestations.
  • Some damages resulting from hidden infestations may be covered, but the infestation itself is usually not covered even in those instances.
  • Repair costs for damages caused by a carpenter ant infestation can be costly, especially if there is structural damage to the home.

Why doesn't homeowners insurance cover carpenter ant damage?

Most homeowners policies contain an exclusion for animal losses, meaning damage caused by birds, vermin, rodents, insects or animals owned or kept by the policyholder.

Insurance companies regard infestations as a home-maintenance issue. For example, an annual termite inspection and treatment would head off a termite infestation that could lead to damage. If you choose not to get your home treated for termites and then get a lot of termite damage, the insurance company views that damage as a result of homeowner negligence. And really, can you blame them?

But, there are times when certain insect damages may be covered.

Carpenter ant damage repair cost

Repair costs for carpenter ant damage will vary based on the extent of the damage done. There may be structural repairs needed to the home that can really add up. According to Modernize, carpenter ants love to inhabit insulation and inner walls first and then will make their way outward to the home siding as their ant colonies grow. In other words, you're looking at some extensive (and expensive) damage.

In addition to repair of actual damages done to the home, you'll also need to pay a pest control company to eradicate the carpenter ants from your home. Otherwise, they'll continue wreaking havoc.

HomeAdvisor reports that carpenter ant treatments can cost anywhere from $250 to $500, which is $100 more than the average for all types of ants because carpenter ants are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

There is no doubt that preventative care can save you a lot of money in the long run.

How to prevent carpenter ant damage or other insect damage to your home

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 weather stripping around doors and windows.
  • Caulk and seal openings in walls.
  • Improve ventilation in crawl spaces.