Pest Infestation and Home Insurance: What You Need to Know

If your home has a pest infestation, your insurer probably won’t pay the cost to resolve it—but damage to the house could be covered.

Written by Jess Ullrich / September 30, 2022

Quick Bites

  • While homeowners insurance offers valuable financial protection, it generally won’t protect you from a pest infestation.
  • Insurers often consider pest infestations to be preventable.
  • In certain cases, catastrophic damage may be covered, but the actual cost of resolving the infestation won’t be.

Feeling grossed out because you saw a mouse run across your kitchen floor or a roach in the bathroom sink? You’re probably not alone. About 12% of U.S. households report rodent sightings, and 11% report roach sightings, according to 2019 U.S. Census data.[1] And those figures don’t include other common pests like carpenter ants, termites or bats, so the percentage of households that have experienced a pest infestation is likely much higher.

If you’re struggling with pests, you might wonder if your homeowners insurance will cover the cost of rectifying the infestation or repairing pest damage. Here’s what you need to know.

Inside this article

  1. Does home insurance cover pests?
  2. When pest damage may be covered
  3. How to avoid infestations
  4. Frequently asked questions

Does home insurance cover pest infestation?

Unfortunately, we have some bad news: Most standard homeowners insurance policies won’t cover the cost of fixing a pest infestation. That’s because insurers typically view this issue as a preventable problem. In their view, actions like regular termite inspections, spraying for insects and ensuring the outside of your home is free of excess debris could help you avoid an infestation in the first place.

“From the insurance industry’s perspective, the contracts are written to cover sudden, unexpected events like a pipe bursting [as long as it’s a covered peril],” says Brian Hanley, CEO of The Haney Company, an insurance services firm. “A pest infestation would be considered damage that could be prevented through proper maintenance and proper pest control. So sadly, if you discover you have an infestation, you’ll likely need to remediate it out of pocket, which is why it’s highly recommended to have a cash reserve for such emergencies.”

Homeowners insurance generally covers issues that aren’t preventable, such as damage from a hurricane, tornado or fire.

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In the case of a pest infestation, the cost of prevention could be worth it to help avoid damage. Here’s a look at common types of pest infestations and how expensive they can be to rectify[2]:

Type of infestationAverage cost to exterminate
AntsUp to $500
CockroachesUp to $400
RodentsUp to $500
TermitesUp to $8,000
BatsUp to $650

Keep in mind these figures only reflect the cost of extermination, not the cost of repairing any damage due to an infestation. If you account for the cost of damage, the costs could be much higher.

For instance, if termites decide to nest in your home, you may end up needing to cover thousands of dollars in damage. Data shows that U.S. households pay about $3,000 on average to repair damage due to a termite infestation.[3] And homeowners policies do not typically cover the cost of termite removal or damage.[4] So in this case, an ounce of prevention could be worth a pound of cure.

When pest damage may be covered

While pest damage typically isn’t covered for the reason we mentioned, it could be covered in certain cases. Here are a few instances where your insurance might kick in:

  • There’s a fire in your home after a mouse chews through your wiring

  • Your home collapses due to hidden termite or carpenter ant damage

  • A covered issue like a pipe bursting directly causes an infestation

If you’re wondering if your homeowners policy will cover pest-related costs, it’s best to speak with your insurance company to get the specifics. They’ll be able to offer details about what, if anything, is covered under your policy. You can also read the fine print of your coverage to figure out what’s covered and what isn’t.

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How to avoid infestations and protect your wallet

Some pest infestations can be difficult to prevent, but there are some steps you can take to stop them before they start.

Tip

Personally, I hire a pest control service that visits my home quarterly, checks for common signs of pest issues and sprays around the foundation of our home. This service helped identify a carpenter ant nest a few years’ back, and likely prevented some expensive damage to our home.

Here are some other preventative measures that could help you avoid an infestation:

  • Remove water sources, like puddles, near your home’s foundation

  • Patch any holes in your home’s exterior

  • Throw out your trash regularly

  • Keep debris away from your home’s foundation

  • Mow your grass and rake up leaves regularly

  • Store food properly

  • Clean your home regularly

  • Do self-inspections to look for signs of pests

Frequently asked questions

Is secondary damage caused by pests covered by home insurance?

In rare cases, secondary pest damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance. For instance, if damage is completely hidden and causes a catastrophic issue in your home, like a collapse or a fire, your insurance may kick in. Or if you can prove that an infestation and damage were a direct result of a covered issue, you might be covered. However, your insurance company will make the final determination.

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Article Sources
  1. Michelle Sellner, Jordan Wicht, “Residents of 14 Million Housing Units Reported Seeing Roaches, 14.8 Million Saw Rodents in Last 12 Months,” U.S. Census Bureau, April 21, 2021, https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/04/how-many-american-homes-have-pests.html.
  2. Katy Willis, “How Much Does Pest Control Cost? Everything You Need to Know,” Angi, May 4, 2022, https://www.angi.com/articles/how-much-does-pest-control-service-cost.htm.
  3. “Termite Statistics,” Orkin, https://www.orkin.com/pests/termites/termite-statistics.
  4. “Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Termite Damage?” AllState, https://www.allstate.com/resources/home-insurance/termites-and-your-home.

About the Author

Jess Ullrich

Jess Ullrich

Jess Ullrich is a personal finance writer who's been creating online content since 2009.

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