If a colony of bees decides your home is the perfect place for their new hive, you should consider contacting pest control or bee removal services in order to safely relocate them. But you should prepare to foot the bill yourself — homeowners insurance typically does not cover the cost of bee or bee nest removal, or any other type of insect or pest infestation.
Homeowners insurance companies consider pest infestations to be preventable since they happen over time and are more of a maintenance issue. Insurance companies expect you to take care of the day to day upkeep of your property.
Depending on where the nest is located, bee infestations can result in damage to your home if the infestation spreads. Carpenter bees may drill holes into wooden beams, leaving room for fungal growth and wood decay, and wasps and bees can infest your walls and ceiling, and even fill up spaces in your home with honey.
If you catch a bee infestation early enough you may only have to pay for an exterminator. Nest removal may cost a few hundred dollars depending on the species and size of the infestation. But long term infestations can be costly and may result in having to replace or repair infested walls or beams.
Why doesn’t homeowners insurance cover bee or bee nest removal?
Pest infestations are typically excluded from home insurance coverage because they're considered maintenance issues. Homeowners insurance protects you from unexpected and sudden and accidental damage, like fire damage or water damage caused by a burst pipe, but insurance companies typically do not cover damage they consider to be preventable or damage that occurs over time.
It may take you a few days to notice the carpenter bees swarming your deck, but large bee infestations do not happen overnight. For bees to cause enough structural damage to your home that you’d need to file an insurance claim, they’d have to have been there for an extended amount of time, and insurance companies may see the damage as negligence on your part.
Bee infestations typically grow steadily and are a matter of home upkeep, which is your responsibility. Home insurance also won’t cover bee nest removal from your personal property, like if bees infest and nest in a swing set or trampoline.
What kind of structural damage can bees cause?
If a bee infestation is left unattended in your home or property for an extended period of time it can result in significant damage. Below are a few ways bee infestations can damage your home.
The holes that carpenter bees leave in wood can lead to fungal growth and wood rot
If bees or wasps get trapped in your walls they can chew through drywall, plaster, and even caulk (note: when a wasp escapes your wall it will likely be angry)
The wax from honey bee hives can leave damaging stains on your siding or walls
When might homeowners insurance cover bee removal?
Homeowners insurance may cover the cost of bee removal if you can prove the infestation is a result of a covered peril in your policy. Insurers refer to this as “proximate cause,” meaning the covered peril is the direct cause of the infestation. For example, if a hailstorm damages your roof and wasps infest your attic because of the openings left by the hail, your homeowners insurance may consider the infestation to be proximate cause and pay for the wasp removal.
However, in order to prove proximate cause you’ll have to prove that the hailstorm was the direct and sole cause of the infestation. Regardless of the cause, if you notice wasps or bees in your home, you should call an exterminator. You may be able to exterminate the wasps before they make a nest.
What to do if you have a bee infestation
Bees will typically swarm a property before the rest of the colony joins them to build a nest. If you notice bees hovering around your deck, gutters, or the wooden beams of your porch, consider using a bee repellent spray and calling an exterminator or removal expert if the issue persists.
Don’t try to remove, knock down, or spray a bee nest on your own. Depending on the species, you risk angering the bees, which could result in them swarming and stinging you.
The best thing you can do if you have a bee infestation is to contact a professional. Bee removal professionals will know the safest way to remove different species of bee nests. If you want to get rid of a honey bee nest (but want to be mindful of the environment), consider contacting a bee relocation specialist or a beekeeper. They may be able to safely trap the honey bees and relocate them.
If your home needs wall or ceiling repair because of the infestations, you may want to contact your insurance company about the repairs you made. They won’t cover the cost of the repairs, but it’s important to notify your insurer when you make changes to your home. If you updated the materials of your walls, deck, or ceiling and your insurer doesn’t know, you may not be fully reimbursed for future claims in the event the new or repaired structures are damaged by a covered peril.
How to prevent a bee infestation
Bees can get into your home through small holes, cracks, or unsealed areas, like an old window that needs to be resealed. They may infest your attic, basement, or walls or ceilings if there are any cracks or holes.
There are a few steps you can take to prevent bee infestations.
Make sure windows, cracks, and small holes are sealed
Keep your yard clutter free
Keep humidity levels in your home down
Hang moth balls on outside areas, like your deck
Don’t leave food outside for an extended amount of time