By Lucian McMahon
You may have read the recent story featured in the I.I.I. Daily about raccoon damage and homeowners' insurance. The gist: raccoons got into a house and caused $80,000 worth of damage. The homeowners were surprised to learn that their insurance wouldn’t cover any of it.
So what’s the deal with animal damage and insurance?
Let’s start with the easy stuff. If your dog Fido rips through your couch or pees all over the wall, you’re out of luck. Standard homeowner's policies won’t cover any damage to your house or personal property caused by a pet. And ”pet” is a pretty broad term. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Shih Tzu or a Clydesdale horse, pets are any animal you own.
What about animals that aren’t pets, like deer or birds or – God forbid – rats? That’s where things get interesting.
Building damage: You probably aren’t covered for any damage to the building caused by birds, rodents, insects, or vermin. There also probably won’t be coverage for any nesting or infestation. Insurance policies can vary widely, however, so make sure you ask your agent what is and isn’t considered a rodent or vermin (some insurers will say raccoons are vermin, some will say they’re not). The specific details of your policy will determine your coverage.
Damage to the building from other wild animals could be covered, though. If a moose runs through the sliding door to your deck, the damaged door would be covered.
Personal property damage: Unfortunately, your personal property is probably not covered no matter what kind of animal does the damaging. If a moose runs through your sliding door and wreaks havoc on grandma’s china, then you’re covered for damage to the door, but not the china.
Liability: You go to your friend’s house and bring Fido for a dog playdate. Fido then rips through your friend’s couch. Are you covered? Yes. Homeowners liability protection will cover the damage to other people’s property caused by your pets. Just not your property. Friendship saved.
A squirrel chews through the wiring in your car. Fido dents your door chasing after a squirrel. A moose rams your car in a fit of rage, smashing the windshield. (Why do I keep thinking of moose scenarios?)
Does personal auto insurance cover animal damage? Yes, if you have optional comprehensive coverage. If you only have collision coverage, then you’re not covered.
Collision only covers damage when a car overturns or hits another car or object. Comprehensive covers…more or less everything else: damage from falling objects, fire, explosions – and birds and animals.
So if you paid the extra premium for comprehensive coverage (like most Americans do), then you’re covered for damage from chewing squirrels, incautious Fidos, and rampaging moose (meese?).
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