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Do You Need Pest Insurance?

Your home is likely your biggest investment and the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. In the Portland area, homes are selling for a median price of nearly $420,000. When considering such a significant investment, doesn’t it make sense to protect yourself (and your home)?

When financing your home purchase, your lender will require you to purchase homeowners insurance. However, did you know that many, if not most, policies don’t cover pest infestations and possibly the damage that is done to your home by insects and rodents?

In today’s post, we’ll talk more about the limitations of homeowners insurance policies and the advantages of Pest Insurance.

 

Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Insects & Rodents?

The answer is: not always. The only way you can know for sure what is covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy is to actually read it (or even better, have it reviewed by a lawyer who can explain it to you).

Commonly, homeowners insurance policies consider bug and rodent infestations to be maintenance issues that aren’t covered. However, if the infestation damages your home, repairing the damage might be covered – it all depends on the specifics of your policy.

One phrase to watch for in your policy is “sudden and accidental”. Your policy may use this type of clause to limit coverage to sudden and accidental damage to your home (like a pipe that bursts during a hard freeze vs. a pipe that leaks for months and months, causing water damage).

Even if your homeowners’ insurance policy does cover the damage caused by common pests like termites, ants, and rats, keep researching the issue. Depending on your policy’s deductible, will it be worth filing a claim? Preventing infestations from taking hold might make more sense financially and actually save you money in the long run.

 

How Does Pest Insurance Work?

Think of Pest Insurance as preventive, proactive maintenance built around 4 seasonal inspections and treatments. At EcoCare, as part of our Pest Insurance program, our exterminators will visit your home each season. Our schedule and the common pests we look for include:

  • Spring & Early Summer – Wasps, Box Elders, Ants, Spiders, Rodents
  • Mid-Summer – Fleas, Yellow Jackets, Hornets, Bees, Rodents, Ants
  • Fall – Wasps, Hornets, Box Elders, Spiders, Rodents, Ants
  • Winter – Rats, Mice, Ants

What to Expect From Each Visit

On your initial visit, our exterminator will do a full inspection and treatment of your home, inside and out. We’ll walk the perimeter of your home and treat the exterior and foundation of your home for nearly 40 covered pests. Then we’ll head inside and treat interior walls, your attic, and crawlspace. On subsequent visits, our technician will inspect and treat the outside of your home, coming inside if needed.

Best of all, our pest control treatments are eco-friendly! All of our treatments are specifically formulated to be safe for both people and pets while being tough on bugs and other pests! You, your pets, and your children can stay in your home while our exterminators do their work.

 

Portland Pest Insurance FAQ

Who Should Buy Pest Insurance?

New Homes: Since builders and subcontractors are not trained to keep pests out, there are often small gaps and openings which will allow a rodent easy access and should be excluded or repaired

Older Homes: Often draftier and have more gaps to allow pests to enter your home.

Homes Near Greenbelts, Wooded areas, and Open Spaces: While space around your home is often desirable, this same space provides significant harborage for rodents and insects in your local ecosystem.

High-density Housing: Pests can easily travel from home to home.

What Pests Cause the Most Property Damage?

Did you know…

  • Rodents can tear up insulation and wiring in crawl spaces, attics, and walls, leaving unhealthy germs and odors along with thousands of dollars in damage.
  • Carpenter Ants and Moisture Ants can hollow out wood in order to nest inside and cause structural damage to your home.
  • Even though their life cycle is about 10 days, moth larvae can destroy your favorite wool sweaters!
  • A termite colony can eat an entire 2x4 piece of lumber in under 6 months!

How Does Pest Insurance Save Money?

Pest Insurance is an investment! With Pest Insurance,

  • Predictable yearly costs are less expensive than unscheduled emergency visits.
  • Prevention is less expensive and less invasive than treatment of an infestation.
  • Proactive treatments protect against costly repairs for pest damage.

What If a Pest Isn’t Covered?

Not every insect is covered by our Pest Insurance program. For example, Bed Bugs are not included in pest insurance due to the larger amount of time required to inspect and treat for them. Each infestation of bed bugs needs to be individually evaluated and assessed for the treatment protocol.

Additionally, treating for an active rodent infestation is not included in the pest insurance program, but once the problem is solved, a rodent maintenance plan can be added to the regular pest insurance agreement.

With those two exceptions, there is a very low risk of encountering a pest we don’t cover!

What If Something comes up in between my quarterly visits?

We offer emergency touch-up visits in case something becomes an issue on the inside and needs a treatment before the next scheduled visit.

 

Interested in Learning More About Pest Insurance?

Contact EcoCare and schedule your free in-home consultation today. We’d love to help you protect your home and keep your family, pets, and possessions free of insects and rodents.

 

How to Spot 7 Common Pest & Insect Infestations

The best way to know if your home is infested with insects or rodents is an inspection from an experienced exterminator. However, there are some warning signs you can be on the lookout for. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the 7 most common pests in the Portland and Vancouver area, as well as how to spot them!

 

1. Ants

Who in the Portland area hasn’t walked into their kitchen and seen a line of tiny black ants marching towards an almost invisible speck of food on the counter? Here in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll likely start to notice signs of ant infestations during the springtime. Ants become more active after the colder winter months.

However, ants aren’t just a pest! Moisture Ants and Carpenter Ants can do damage to your home’s wood structure or to trees on your property. Here’s what to look for:

  • Moisture Ants – About ⅛” long and are yellowish-brown in color. If you see them in your home (particularly in the bathroom), they may be a sign of rotting wood caused by leaking pipes or built-up moisture. Outdoors, look for moisture ants in dead or decaying trees or stumps. If needed, have the tree inspected and removed.
  • Carpenter Ants – Carpenter Ants are bigger than other ants and build hollowed out nests in the wood of trees and buildings. Look for sawdust-like shavings and small openings in any exposed wood on the outside of your home. If your home has moisture problems, it’s more likely to attract Carpenter Ants.
  • Soil Ants – One of the most common Portland pests, you’ll often find these small black ants searching out food in your home. Spilled juice, bits of pet food, even tiny crumbs can attract these unwanted pests!

 

2. Spiders

Spiders are an important part of the ecosystem, eating a variety of insects that you might not want in your home! Unfortunately, however, spiders do bite humans on occasion. Depending on the species, the bites can be itchy and painful and can even become seriously infected.

Spiders are commonly found in:

  • Wood piles
  • Dark nooks and crannies
  • Crevices around windows and door frames
  • High places that aren’t cleaned often
  • Crawl spaces and attics

Be extra careful when cleaning in these areas as most spider bites occur when spiders are startled or provoked by a human.

 

3. Rats & Mice

There are several species of rodents found in the Pacific Northwest. Mice are generally smaller (with a body around 3” in length) while Rats might be twice that size. Rodents reproduce quickly, so it’s important to catch an infestation in its early stages. Be on the lookout for:

  • Droppings – Even a single small House Mouse can produce over 50 droppings per day.
  • Damaged Food Containers – Rodents can easily chew through cardboard food boxes. Rats can even chew through plastic!
  • Unusual Sounds – Especially at night (when rodents are most active), you might hear rustling within your walls or along floorboards.
  • Dark Marks on WallsNorway Rats, the largest rats in our area, will leave dark marks on walls where they rub their oily fur.
  • Changes in Your Pets – Pets (especially cats) may get very interested in an otherwise unremarkable area in your home if they hear, see, or smell rodents.

 

4. Bed Bugs

Bed Bug infestations can be very stressful. Everyone’s heard the horror stories! In addition, Bed Bug bites can be painful and itchy! Here’s what to look for:

  • Travel Safely – Inspect hotel rooms for signs of Bed Bugs. Also check the Bed Bug registry online before making reservations.
  • Check Your Mattress – Look for reddish-black spots along the edges, seams, and underside of your mattress. These are a very common sign of Bed Bug infestations.
  • Common Bite Pattern – About 80% of people are allergic to Bed Bug bites. Bed Bug bites swell up and look blotchy and red. Another telltale sign is 3 or 4 bites in a straight line.
  • Think Before Buying Used Furniture – Besides traveling, one of the most common ways Bed Bugs enter the home is through used furniture purchases. So carefully inspect anything before you bring it into your home!
  • Look For Tiny Blood Spots – If you suspect a Bed Bug infestation in your home, switch to white sheets on your bed. In the morning, look for tiny red dots. These are small drops of blood from Bed Bug bites.

 

5. Moths

Moth infestations can ruin food and damage your favorite sweaters! In the Portland area, there are several common species of Moths. However, contrary to popular belief, adult moths aren’t a danger to your clothes or pantry! Instead, it’s the larval (juvenile) moths that are the troublemakers.

That said, if you’re seeing lots of adult moths in your home, it’s likely that they’re laying eggs which will turn into potentially-damaging larvae. Adult moths are attracted to light, so inside your home, you’re likely to see them flying near lamps, overhead lights, and TV screens.

If moth larvae are present, you’ll likely see these signs:

  • Silk threads and webbing
  • Larval casings
  • Damage to wool

 

6. Wasps, Yellowjackets & Hornets

For the most part, Wasps and Hornets are considered beneficial insects because they usually feed on other insects. However, when they nest near (or inside) a home, they need to be removed. People who are allergic to their stings can suffer life-threatening allergic reactions if stung. Even if you’re not allergic, stings can be very painful!

The most obvious signs of Wasps and Hornets are their papery, egg-shaped nests. Look for nests in trees near your home, tucked into the eaves of your home, or anywhere else that’s protected from the elements. Yellowjackets on the other hand, usually build nests underground or in a confined space. These can be much harder to spot! Keep an eye out for Yellowjackets swarming around the ground.

 

7. Termites

In the Pacific Northwest, we have both Dampwood Termites and Subterranean Termites.

Dampwood Termites (as their name implies) prefer to eat wood that’s wet and has a consistent source of moisture. Most often, this means Dampwood Termites will be found in logs, stumps, and dead trees. Unfortunately, they can also burrow into homes where exterior wood touches the ground or where wood is dampened by leaky pipes. Subterranean Termites, on the other hand, usually live underground and burrow into the wood from underground nests which can be up to 30 feet below the surface.

Termites can cause serious damage to your home or any other wooden structure. Be on the lookout for:

  • Termite Swarms – Winged Termites swarm in the air on dry days during the spring.
  • “Layered” Wood – As Termites eat away at wood it will take on a “layered” appearance.
  • Tunnels – If you see wood with tunnels bored into it, that’s a sign of a Termite infestation.
  • Feeding Tubes – Subterranean Termites may use feeding tubes made of mud to reach wood that’s above ground level. If you see these, DO NOT disturb them as it can cause the colony to move and become harder to eliminate.

 

Sleep Easy With Year-Round Pest Protection

At EcoCare Pest Solutions we’ve developed a year-round pest protection service called Eco-Shield Pest Insurance. With Eco-Shield Pest Insurance, you won’t have to spend your time wondering and worrying about potential pest and insect infestations. Instead, we’ll make regular visits to your home to seek out and eliminate 39 different types of pests.

You won’t be bothered by any covered pest again, or we’ll correct the problem at no additional cost! Compared to individual service calls, Eco-Shield can save you hundreds of dollars every year- not to mention the added peace of mind knowing that your home is safe from insects and rodents.

Want to learn more? Contact us today.

9 Questions You Must Ask Any Pest Control Company or Exterminator

Many homeowners don’t start thinking about pest control until they see signs of insects or rodents. This can be a stressful time, as pests can carry disease and damage your home and property. But if you’re searching for a pest control company in the Portland or Vancouver area, the last thing you should do is rush to hire the first company you find.

Instead, take the time to talk with a few different pest control services. Ask the right questions and get the information you need before making a decision to hire an exterminator. In the long run, choosing a pest control company who will do the job right and stand behind their work is worth the effort.

In today’s post, we’ll talk about the questions you must ask any exterminator or pest control company you’re thinking about hiring. Let’s get started!

How long have you been in business?

We’ve been serving the Portland and Vancouver metro areas for over 15 years. During that time, we’ve seen countless other pest control companies come and go. When you work with an established, local pest control company, you’ll benefit from:

  • Their exterminators’ local pest control knowledge and experience
  • Trust in the fact that they’ll be around in the future and that they’ll stand behind their work

Do you have any testimonials or online reviews I can check out?

If a pest control company can’t provide proof that they’re trustworthy and reputable, that is a major red flag. At EcoCare we can show you:

  • Our A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • Superior Service Awards from Angie’s List that we’ve won for 10 straight years (ever since they began serving the Portland area)
  • Over 800 reviews on Angie’s List, as well as 5-star reviews on Yelp

Are your exterminators licensed, bonded, and insured?

If an exterminator or pest control company can’t answer this question with an emphatic YES! then you should run in the other direction!

We’re a licensed, bonded, and insured pest control company in both Oregon and Washington. When we visit your home for your free inspection, our technicians and exterminators are happy to provide copies of these certifications that you can keep for your records. Just ask!

How do you decide what treatments are needed?

Here’s where things start to get tricky. As a homeowner, you’re not a pest control expert or an exterminator. So how can you tell who is and who isn’t? Our recommendation is to ask questions like:

  • What kind of pests are in my home? Are they common in this area?
  • What stage of life are the insects in– egg, larva, pupae, adult?
  • How serious is the infestation?
  • How long have the pests been in my home?
  • How long will it take to eliminate the infestation?
  • Will the pests ever come back?
  • How frequently should an exterminator come to my house?

Take note of the answers you receive and do your research online. Trust your gut and your instincts. Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is. If you interview multiple pest control companies, are their answers generally the same? Do you feel like you can trust the person you’re speaking to?

Do you offer a written quote– and will you stand behind it?

Estimates are often just that– estimates. They change over time and unscrupulous companies may use low estimates to get new business. Then they find ways to tack on hidden charges. Fortunately, these kinds of pest control companies tend to have terrible online reviews (you did remember to check those, right?)

At EcoCare, we don’t offer estimates. When you contact us, we’ll inspect your home for free and then provide a firm price that we’ll stand behind.

How much training do your exterminators receive?

Every pest control technician is required by the state of Oregon to pass three exams to receive licensing for Laws & Safety, Structural Pests, and General Pests. Additionally, all licensed exterminators and technicians are required by the state to take 40 hours of continuing education over 5 years.

At EcoCare, we exceed that requirement by paying for each technician to receive 18 hours per year which is twice the amount required! Additionally, when starting at our company, each technician receives 4-6 weeks of field training with a senior technician. There is a lot more to learn than just picking up a spray can and applying the product! We also have a monthly company breakfast where our team reviews product updates, safe driving, customer service, and more.

Are your pest control treatments safe for people and pets?

Modern eco-friendly pest control treatments are designed to kill pests and be safe for people and most pets.

But make sure to ask– especially if you have exotic pets like birds or snakes. The biology and metabolism of non-mammal pets can be affected by pest control treatments.

Any trustworthy pest control company should be able to clearly explain why their treatments are safe. They’ll also be able to explain whether or not you’ll need to leave your home during treatment.

At EcoCare, for example, you’ll be able to stay in your home while our pest control technicians do their work.

Will you get rid of pests AND keep them from coming back?

In our opinion, this is a very important question that many pest control companies get wrong.

When it comes to pest and insect infestations, it’s not enough to simply get rid of the pests you see. Instead, our results-focused process focuses on both:

Eliminating all insect and pest infestations

AND

Taking preventive measures that keep pests from coming back

We believe preventive pest control is so important that we’ve developed Eco-Shield, a year-round pest control program. It includes:

  • 4 seasonal pest control treatments
  • Protection against nearly 40 common area pests
  • Free additional visits if you ever see any pests

The Eco-Shield program can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year by preventing damaging pest infestations from entering your home.

What if I’m not happy with the results?

Every pest control company is different and has their own guarantee or warranty on their services. At EcoCare, our philosophy is that we stand behind our work and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Contact EcoCare Today

If you’re searching for a pest control company to help you protect your home and your family, we’d love to talk with you. Contact us today for a free home inspection from one of our trained pest control technicians.

We’ll be happy to answer any questions that you might have!

Photo Credits: Jill, Vladimer, Laura Blankenship