What types of animal damage does a homeowners insurance policy cover?
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Many homeowners don’t think about the damage animals can inflict upon their homes. In spite of your best-laid plans, mother nature can assert herself in the form of bats in your attic or raccoons taking up residence in your garage. Animal-related property damage can be significant, requiring costly repairs.
While homeowners insurance policy won’t help in every case, animal-related property damage is covered, in many cases. Find out more about how homeowners insurance handles damage caused by wild animals and the steps you can take to prevent it.
Animal damage can come in many forms. Large animals — such as deer — have been known to shatter glass doors, while raccoons and squirrels have gotten into homes and caused a great deal of damage. In some cases, homeowners insurance covers damage caused by wild animals. However, your policy will only likely cover damages caused by some of these animals, based on how they are classified.
Open windows, chimneys, or faulty construction can be an invitation for creatures to invade your home. Unfortunately, even the smallest of animals can do a huge amount of damage. Squirrels, for instance, are considered rodents — along with mice, rats, opossums, and a number of other small mammals. Damage caused by these animals is not often covered under your home insurance, as most companies consider removing rodents and vermin to be a regular part of home maintenance and, therefore, your responsibility. Raccoons, while also capable of serious damage, are not considered rodents, meaning damage caused by these and other larger mammals like bears or deer will likely be covered by your policy.
The other structures portion of your coverage extends to items like fences, sheds, or other buildings on the property. If they are damaged by a non-excluded wild animal, they will probably be covered by a homeowners insurance policy.
It’s important to note that every insurance policy is different and your coverage may vary.
While homeowners insurance may repair damages caused by some wild animals, don’t expect your personal belongings to be covered. This means that your policy may cover the damage to your attic insulation caused by bats, but it won't extend to the stored furniture ruined by their droppings.
Homeowners insurance almost never covers damage caused by pets. Unless your policy includes a special stipulation from your insurance company, any damage to property or personal belongings caused by dogs, cats, or other domestic animals is excluded from coverage, and you'll need to foot the bill.
In some cases, your insurance will step in to cover damage inflicted by your pet. If your dog bites someone while out on a walk, for instance, your homeowners liability coverage will apply (assuming your dog is not a restricted breed animal). This will cover medical bills to cover injuries caused by your pet and legal fees associated with potential lawsuits.
Few things instill as much fear in a homeowner as an infestation of a pest such as roaches, bed bugs, or termites. Like other types of animal damage, insurance coverage against infestations from different types of vermin is wholly dependent on the nature of the damage they cause. In most cases, insect infestations are considered the responsibility of the homeowner.
Bed bug infestations are not covered by homeowners insurance in most circumstances. The same is true renters insurance, though many states have laws that pass the responsibility on to the landlord, meaning a renter may not have to pay extermination expenses. Unfortunately, homeowners almost always have to fork over for an exterminator and new linens.
However, termites can be a different story. Termite infestations that can cause a structure to collapse are one of the only instances of a bug infestation covered by most homeowners policies — provided the infestation was hidden from view. Otherwise, you could be covered if the infestation is caused by another covered loss, such as a tree falling into your house, which in turn introduces the termites to your home.
As always, if you have specific questions about the types of insect infestations covered, consult your insurer for details specific to your policy.
Animals like deer, dogs, and even cows wander into the road from time to time. Unfortunately, drivers can't always avoid them. If you hit an animal on the road, any damages to your car are typically covered under your auto policy's comprehensive coverage (not collision, as might be assumed). This same coverage applies if an animal damages your vehicle while it is parked, as well as if the damage occurs on the vehicle's interior or exterior.
There’s no sure-fire way to keep animals away from your home, but you can take precautions that may prevent most types of animal damage, including the following:
Animals in the attic isn't a situation anyone wants to think about — nor are legions of bugs chewing through your walls. However, critters like this can occasionally find their way into homes and can wreak havoc if not taken care of quickly. It’s important that you take the necessary precautions and know what your policy covers.
If you’re unsure about the types of damage covered by your homeowners insurance policy, contact a representative from your home insurance company.
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.