Our Insect Nightmare

So many Aussies have been hit by floods over recent weeks, and due to the nature of insurance companies, if you live in a flood prone area you have bugger all chance of getting cover.  In the ideal world you would have yourself insured up to the eyeballs to cover every foreseeable event, but there are a few things that you just can’t cover yourself for. We discovered one of those things recently.

A couple of months after buying our house, Claudia and I got a kitchen company in to replace the baby blue monstrosity, that I’m sure was never in fashion, with a new kitchen. Claudia was so excited that on the morning work started she couldn’t even eat breakfast. Just after the old kitchen had been gutted and the new cabinets were brought inside, Greg the kitchen man was trying to find a stud in the wall to attach them to. Five minutes later he informed us that we had termites.

Strangely enough Claudia’s appetite didn’t suddenly come back and I tried to find a word in my head that didn’t start with the letter f.

Greg started work on the wall opposite. Moments later he told us we had lots of termites, no good studs and that he had to down tools.

Our new house was being eaten by termites not detected by 2 pest inspectors in the previous 9 months, and we had no kitchen a fortnight before we were due to host Christmas for my family. The stress over the following weeks was pretty extreme as we watched thousands of flying termites swarm out of the wall, worried that the roof would come crashing down at any second and tried to work out what we were going to do.

Two and a half months and several thousand dollars later we have had the house treated and badly damaged areas repaired.

Like floods for people in flood prone areas, termites are not something you can insure against. When they strike, you are left to fend for yourself, and if you don’t have emergency funds available you’re screwed. Without money for emergencies you either have to beg, borrow or go under.

How much money you should have set aside will vary depending on your individual circumstances and whose advice you listen to. Some money people will say you should have 6 months of living expenses saved to draw upon at a moment’s notice but it’s a pretty tough target to make. I reckon you need to have about $2,000 per family member as a bare minimum so that you don’t need to give the credit card a big hit when the shit hits the fan.

“She’ll be ‘right!” is an easy alternative to having emergency funds at the ready. But it’s not what you will say when you discover a small white insect and 10 million of it’s closest relatives have found the timber in your house is rather yummy.

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