The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation of . Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our .
Property damage caused by animals, rodents or insects can be substantial, especially if not noticed right away. If you have experienced damage from pests in your home, you might wonder, does my homeowners insurance policy 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.
Does home insurance cover animal damage?
Most standard homeowners insurance policies exclude damage from neglect, which may include failing to notice an animal infestation. While most animal damage is not covered by homeowners insurance, some perils may be covered if they are sudden and accidental. For example, if a deer suddenly runs through your front yard, breaking part of your fence, this may be covered by your other structures coverage. Similarly, if a large bird flies into your window and cracks it, this may be covered under your dwelling coverage.
How wild animals might damage your home
Wild animals come in all shapes and sizes, as does the damage they can cause. The potential damage animals could cause to your home is largely dependent on where you live. For example, if you live in the southern part of the U.S., where the climate is more mild, you may have to be more aware of termites, but if you have a vacation home in a rural mountainous area, bears may be top of mind. Below we have a list of some common types of animal damage and how you may be able to prevent it.
- Raccoons: These creatures can cause damage if they get into chimneys and attics. 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 to prevent the spread of disease. You can prevent raccoon damage by checking crawl spaces frequently and investigating any strange noises in your walls, ceilings or chimney.
- Squirrels: Although squirrels are small, their chewing and nesting may cause damage to your wood, shingles, wiring, plastic and insulation. Checking your home regularly and investigating any strange noises may help prevent squirrel damage, especially if you see them around your property frequently.
- Rodents: Mice and rats typically leave behind droppings to indicate their presence. You may be able to handle a rodent infestation yourself, but if the problem is severe, a professional service may be required.
- Birds: Birds may not look like they could cause damage to your home, but you may be surprised. Woodpeckers, for example, can damage siding and potentially expose your home to the elements. 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.
- Large wild animals: As large animals like deer and bears are more noticeable, the damage they cause is typically less gradual than damage from an insect or rodent infestation. For this reason, large animal damage, like broken fences, windows or siding, may be covered by your insurance company. If you live in a more rural area where large wild animals are a concern, you may want to speak with your insurer to learn what damage is and isn’t covered.
How insects might damage your home
Insects may be some of the smallest animals, but the damage they can cause over time could be devastating. Structural damage is a big concern with certain insects, and unfortunately, most insurance companies exclude damage from pests like termites.
- Bedbugs: Although they do not pose a severe threat to the structure of your home, bedbugs can wreak havoc on your personal belongings. An infestation of bedbugs is generally considered a maintenance issue, with heat treatment being one of the few ways to get rid of them. You may be able to prevent the spread of bedbugs in your home by thoroughly washing any linens, furniture or other fabric items before bringing them into your home.
- Ants: 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 and may indicate a larger water leak. Damage from carpenter ants is usually not covered by homeowners insurance, but if carpenter ants cause a tree to fall on your home, your dwelling coverage may provide coverage for the damage.
- Termites: Termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage in the U.S. each year. Fortunately, being vigilant and taking some preventative measures may help you avoid a termite infestation. Maintaining good drainage on your property, keeping wood piles and debris away from your home, fixing leaks promptly and clearing shrubs and plants away from the side of your home may all help prevent termite damage in your home.
Is pet damage covered by homeowners insurance?
Unfortunately, some of the most common instances of animal damage are the result of the animals we bring into our homes willingly. Pets, like dogs and cats, can easily cause damage to your structure and personal property. Unfortunately, damage from pets is excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies, so if your new puppy chews through a baseboard, you will likely have to pay for the damage out of pocket.
However, there is one coverage that may cover damage caused by your pet: personal liability. If your pet bites someone who is not a household member and causes injuries, your liability insurance 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. This is why most home insurance companies require you to disclose any pets you own when you apply for coverage. If you own a pet, you might consider purchasing extra liability protection with a personal umbrella policy.
How can I prevent animal damage in my home?
Preventing animals from accessing your home is likely your first line of defense when protecting your property from animal damage. Securing attics, crawl spaces, chimneys, and any other access points may help to prevent animals from getting into your home and causing damage.
To limit pest damage from bugs, consider eliminating standing water wherever it may gather on your property. You may want to treat your home with insecticides around the foundation perimeter and potentially hire a pest control company to treat other areas of the property. If you discover persistent termites, mosquitoes, flies, spiders, or insects at any point, consider reaching out to a pest control professional for best next steps.
In general, being proactive is one of the best ways to prevent animal damage in your home. Limiting access points, eliminating attractants and keeping an eye (and ear) out for signs of damage may help you avoid animal issues and address them early if they do occur. As far as damage from pets, keeping a close eye on new pets and preventing them from accessing areas where they might cause damage may help ensure your new family member isn’t taking a toll on your home’s structure or personal belongings.
Frequently asked questions
Not usually. Homeowners insurance typically does not cover backyard animals or any damage they may cause to your property. Structures associated with those animals (chicken coops or barns, for example), may be covered by the other structures coverage of your homeowners insurance policy and financially protected from covered perils or perils not specifically excluded from your homeowners insurance policy.
Your renters insurance policy might cover animal damage if your pet causes damage to someone else or their property. Circumstances tend to be different if a pet or other animal causes damage to the property you’re renting. Checking with your renters insurance company is likely the best way to understand what animal damage may be covered by your policy.
Your auto insurance may cover damage to your vehicle from an animal if you carry comprehensive coverage. Also called “other than collision coverage,” comprehensive coverage is designed to financially protect your vehicle from damage caused by something other than hitting another vehicle. For example, comprehensive coverage typically covers damage from hitting a deer or a bird flying into your windshield. Comprehensive coverage may also cover damage from pests, like a rat chewing through wiring, but you may want to contact your insurer to check what is covered by your policy.