Do homeowners insurance policies cover animal damage?

Property damage caused by animals, rodents or insects can be substantial, especially if not noticed right away. Many homeowners may wonder: “Does insurance cover animal damage?” In most cases, a homeowners insurance policy does not cover animal damage. However, there are some exceptions where animal damage may be covered, depending on the loss circumstances.

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How does animal damage relate to your home insurance coverages?

Homeowners insurance covers you, your home and personal property against certain perils. You are covered for liability protection, your home’s structure, your personal belongings and usually, additional living expenses. If your home is uninhabitable from a covered loss, the additional living expenses help you pay for housing elsewhere and dining costs until you can live back at home.

While an animal, rodent or insect infestation is generally considered a maintenance issue and not covered by homeowners insurance, some perils may be covered if they are sudden and accidental. Some instances of how standard coverages may or may not apply include:

  • Dwelling: One or more deers suddenly run through your front yard, break a few windows and damage some siding.
  • Other structures: A raccoon finds itself in your shed and damages the drywall trying to get back out.
  • Personal property: Generally speaking, your personal property is not covered from animal damage even if the cause of loss was an accident, like the examples referenced above.

How wild animals might damage your home

Wild animals come in all shapes and sizes and so does the damage they can cause. While damage may be limited to your belongings, some animals can cause damage to the structure or other buildings on the property. Wiring, plumbing and other appliances may also be affected. If an animal is left to its own devices in your home for a length of time, the damage could become substantial.

Raccoon damage

Raccoons are known to get into chimneys and attics, causing extensive damage if not removed. They can tear up air ducts and tear and chew through paper insulation, wood and electrical wires. Raccoons will also leave feces and urine, which requires cleaning and should be done carefully, as there is a risk of roundworm.

Does homeowners insurance cover raccoon damage?: Depending on the company and homeowners insurance policy, the damage to your home may be covered, but likely will not extend to personal belongings. However, some policies make specific exclusions for animal damage, potentially leading to tens of thousands of dollars in damage caused by raccoons.

Squirrel damage

Though squirrels are small, they have powerful teeth and jaws that make chewing through home materials easy. They can cause damage to your wood, shingles, wiring, plastic and insulation to gain access to your home.

Does homeowners insurance cover squirrel damage?: Considered vermin, homeowners policies do not typically cover squirrel damage because it is generally considered a maintenance issue.

Rodent coverage

Rodents, like mice and rats, are also considered vermin and removing them is part of regular home maintenance.

Does homeowners insurance cover rodent damage?: Homeowners insurance generally does not cover rodent damage, except in certain instances like when a fire is caused by damage from chewed electrical wires. The damage caused by the fire will typically be covered — as coverage for fire is standard — but any other damage caused by the rodents likely would not be.

Bird damage

Some birds may not look like they could cause damage to your home, but you may be surprised. Woodpeckers, for example, could peck a hole into your siding and through the wood in your home. Once the wood is exposed, water could get into the home and cause damage. If a bird gets inside, their feces and urine could also pose health problems, and they could damage insulation or other materials to make nests.

Does homeowners insurance cover bird damage?: The bird damage may not be covered, but if water gets inside, that may be. Some companies cover accidental loss caused by contact with a bird or animal.

How insects might damage your home

Insects may be some of the smallest animals, but the damage they can cause over time could level your home. For example, some homeowners may ask, “Is carpenter ant damage covered by homeowners insurance?” Structural damage is a big concern with certain insects, and depending on the scenario and insurance company, it may or may not be covered by your homeowners insurance.

Bed bug damage

Bedbug infestations may not cause much dwelling damage, but the personal property damage can be high. Homeowners insurance usually has an exclusion on coverages for bedbug infestations. An infestation of bedbugs is generally considered a maintenance or upkeep issue. With heat treatment being one of the few ways to get rid of bedbugs, removing heat-sensitive items can reduce the risk of personal property damage that is usually not covered by homeowners insurance, since it would not qualify as an accidental loss.

Carpenter ant damage

Carpenter ants are most common in the Northeastern states and the damage they cause can be mistaken for termite damage. Carpenter ants eat through soggy wood to make their nests, so if you notice them, then you likely have a water leak somewhere. Animal damage from carpenter ants is usually not covered by homeowners insurance, especially if the water damage is visible and was not taken care of. However, if carpenter ants caused a tree to fall on your home, which damages your dwelling and belongings, there may be coverage.

Termite damage

Like carpenter ant damage, termite damage is generally not covered by homeowners insurance. However, if the damage caused by termites is not visible in the home and you only notice when there is a structural collapse, there may be coverage for the dwelling and personal belongings damaged in the collapse.

Is pet damage covered by homeowners insurance?

Dogs and cats are the most common pets and cause damage in the home, especially when they are young. Whether it is chewed up personal property like furniture, carpet and clothes or damage to the dwelling structure, like scratched walls and doors, the damage caused by your pet is generally not covered by homeowners insurance.

However, there is one coverage that will cover damage caused by your pet: personal liability. If your pet bites someone who is not a household member and causes injuries, your liability may cover their medical bills. If they sue you, the legal fees and representation could be covered as well. Read your homeowners insurance policy carefully, as there could be restrictions or exclusions for certain pets or breeds. If you own a pet, consider purchasing extra liability protection with a personal umbrella policy.

Does homeowners insurance cover fences?

Homeowners insurance does typically cover fences under the other structures coverage. Depending on the cause of loss, damage to your fence may be covered. For example, if a moose runs through your yard and takes down your fence, this sudden and accidental cause of loss might be covered.