5 On Your Side

Honeybee infestation is insurance problem

Posted October 27, 2010

— Homeowners insurance covers damage from catastrophic events, including fires, tornadoes and hurricanes. But it doesn't cover damage other things, including insect invasions, that can really mess up a home.

Rocky Mount resident Cheryl Pitt has been dealing with a bee infestation and her insurance company for weeks.

First, she found bees around the outside of her house. Her husband sprayed to kill them.

"There were like thousands of bees dropping dead on my floor," Pitt said. She cleaned it up and thought the problem was gone.

Then, she found honey coating the floor of her laundry room.

"The stuff started dripping from my ceiling," Pitt said. "I feel like it's something out of a horror movie."

When she pulled down the ceiling panel, she found honeycombs, honey, dead bees and larvae.

"It blew my mind," she said.

Pitt called her insurance company, which ultimately told her that standard homeowners policies do not cover insect damage.

"I've been here for 15 years or more, and I've been paying them," she said. "This is my insurance company that I've been dealing with since I owned my home, so I don't understand."

Honeybee infestation is insurance problem Honeybee infestation is insurance problem

Although a bee invasion isn't common for homeowners, costly damage from other insects and animals – such as termites, bedbugs, bats and squirrels – is more common. Homeowners insurance doesn't cover that damage, either.

"If you go back to you policy language, you can see fairly clearly spelled out in that language (that) it is excluded," Kristin Milam, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Insurance, said.

It comes down to whether damage is caused from an ongoing maintenance or an unforeseen event, Milam explained.

"There could be a home that maybe has been infested with termites for years and years, and nobody has taken any measures to even see if there have been" any termites in the home, she said. "That's different than if lightning strikes your home and starts a home fire."

Bedbug infestations, though, are not related to home maintenance, and getting rid of them is expensive. New York is considering a law that would require insurance companies to offer bedbug coverage.

Luckily for Pitt, the damage to her house is not major and just requires repairs and clean up.

"I want it gone. I want things back to normal," she said.

Keep in mind that homeowners insurance is intended for catastrophic losses and repairs that homeowners could not afford to pay for, no matter what. File a claim for anything else, and your rates could go up, or your policy might be canceled altogether.


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  • elibbybh Nov 2, 2010

    It doesn't matter how long you have had a policy with an insurance company-it doesn't cover this type of loss. Insurance is not meant to be for maintenence. Everyone should read their own policies to see what is and what isn't covered.

  • Timetogo Nov 2, 2010

    I don't get it.. What kind of serious damage was caused? I didn't see anything that cleaning up wouldn't take care of or maybe replacing a couple of panels (that would be less than most deductables). I don't see the need for filing insurance here.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 2, 2010

    If they saw honey dripping in their house before they sprayed the bees, then it sounds like they could have shown a little forethought and asked someone (or googled) about a more humane removal. At the very least, they may not have had as much of a mess.

    And if she doesn't trim those tree branches to keep them from scraping the shingles, she's going to need a new roof too.

  • GulfWarVet Oct 29, 2010

    Holy smokes, I hate to hear of folks spraying insecticide on honey bees. Are folks really that egocentric that this was the only recourse they felt they had?! Such a waste!

  • honorgetlow Oct 29, 2010

    Really people? Let's think about this for a moment. You are getting upset at this couple for killing honey bees instead of calling a bee keeper? How many of you that are upset about this never killed a bug before?

    Next, how many of you see a problem with the insurance company not helping after this couple has been paying them for 15 years? So many complaints about how they treated the bees. Not one complaint on how the insurance company treated the human beings. Where's the real problem?

  • drh3102 Oct 29, 2010

    Please, People, Please. Do not spray bug spray on or at Bees if you find or hear them in or around your home. Call a professional bee keeper that will come and remove the bees and according to the deal you work out with him/her some or all of the honey. What a waste of wonderful honey. So many times I hear of people seeing or hearing bees and they run for the bug spray. They do kill the bees but this also make the honey uneatable. The damage is done why not turn to a way that will provide you with some honey to enjoy after the clean-up has been completed. If a Bee Keeper comes to the rescue there will not be thousands dead bees to clean up.

  • HappyGirl08 Oct 29, 2010

    Well, my guess is they didn't know they could call a bee keeper and have them take the bees away. Probably, they had no idea how bad the problem was until they pulled down the ceiling tile in the house. Geez people. We have all had insect problems at our homes and we see them, we kill them and we move on.

  • burnhace Oct 28, 2010

    How could anyone spray insecticide on honeybees? It's like shooting songbirds.

  • Guitarman Oct 28, 2010

    Nationwide ain't on your side !!

  • bjeanr3 Oct 28, 2010

    I understand there is a severe shortage of honey bees. Too bad they killed them. Much better to have had a beekeeper come and take the bees away.