insurance

Homeowners liability coverage: Can it handle bees?

Jack HungelmannDear Insurance Adviser,
We have a honey bee hive on our roof that is home to a couple dozen bees, and we recently were told by a neighbor that she would be contacting her attorney because she got stung. These bees have never bothered us at all. If she sues us, would the liability coverage in our home insurance take care of any or all of the lawyer's fees? What about any damages?
-- Sally

Bees in honeycomb © satephoto/Shutterstock.com

Dear Sally,
Good news! Home insurance policies pretty much universally include worldwide personal liability coverage to a limit of at least $100,000 for any damages. Defense costs are covered separately and completely until the full liability limit has been paid to the injured party.

Limits higher than $100,000 are available at minimal extra cost. For example, the additional cost to raise the limit to $500,000 is as low as $20-$30 a year. Additional liability coverage is one of the best buys in the insurance business. The extra liability protection comes with continued defense coverage until the higher limit has been paid in damages.

As an aside, it doesn't seem like your neighbor has much of a case. You're not raising bees and don't have a honey-making operation. You are just a homeowner peacefully coexisting with nature. Some bees have adopted your roof as their home.

Where is the negligence? Even if it's true that one of your bees did sting her, she would have to prove that the guilty bee came from your hive. Good luck with that!

I hope that helps.

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