When you buy a new home, there are a number of concerns you immediately need to take care of. Unbeknownst to most first time buyers, maintenance is one of those things. Every home is in a constant state of wear and tear. Maintenance is a year-round, constant activity. It costs a significant amount of money – approximately 1% of the value of the home every year.
Another concern you need to take care of from the off is homeowners insurance. Without homeowners insurance coverage, you are at risk of losing far more than any person can afford to lose. Homeowners insurance will pay claims on the structure of the house as well as the contents therein.
It is understandable if you hope that one concern will take care of another. Will your homeowners insurance cover maintenance costs like exterminators?
What does homeowners insurance cover?
The simple answer to the above question is, unfortunately, no. Homeowners insurance will not cover exterminators. Nor will it cover most other issues that can be put down to regular maintenance.
This is an important point to understand. It is not just that homeowners insurance won’t cover your maintenance costs. If your insurance company determines that any accidents that cause major damage would have been avoided if you’d taken care of maintenance, they will probably not pay out.
For example, let’s say you have a termite infestation that you ignore which causes your roof to weaken. One day, in a massive storm, your roof collapses. Your home floods, destroying your furniture and electronics and causing structural damage to the whole property. If your insurance company recognizes that this would not have happened if you had taken care of the termites, they can deny claims on everything you lose in the storm!
In other words, insurance won’t pay for maintenance, but you had better do so.
What about home warranties?
There is another type of cover you can get that does take care of maintenance issues. That is the home warranty. With a home warranty, you pay a monthly installment, and they take care of maintenance and repair issues when they come up. Some years, the amount of maintenance in your house won’t add up to the premiums.
However, in another year, a major issue could cost thousands of dollars to repair. Your home warranty will step in and do it for you. Without the warranty, you would have struggled to take care of something that affects the habitability of your home.
Many home warranties do cover pest extermination, both the cost and the admin.
There is much to debate when it comes to home warranties. Unlike homeowners insurance, they are not a must-have. Furthermore, some argue that by saving the same money every month, you can be prepared for whatever happens. There is also the issue that warranty companies may require you to use contractors that they choose, regardless of whether you approve of them or not.
What should I do?
The decision of whether or not to get a home warranty is personal. However, it is important that every homeowner takes care of maintenance on a regular basis. You should have a maintenance schedule for your home that you follow rigorously every year. You should have a plan to pay for maintenance, whether by cash or other means.
When you experience a pest infestation, it is crucial that you call the exterminators before they cause structural damage that may lead to greater problems your insurance won’t pay for.
How do I create a maintenance schedule?
Every home’s maintenance schedule will be different. However, there are certain requirements that are constant. Your roof needs to be regularly checked for issues and waterproofed if possible. Your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system must be serviced annually. Wood needs to be treated. Basements should have working sump pumps to prevent flooding.
Ideally, the previous owner left you their maintenance schedule. Otherwise, go through the house and take note of everything you can think of that will see decay over time. Put it all into a spreadsheet and choose the most appropriate times to take care of each matter.
Homeowners insurance does not cover extermination or other maintenance issues. That is for you to see to, and is something you should take very seriously.