When you purchase a home, you’ll likely be required by your mortgage lender to purchase home insurance in order to protect the investment. But what happens if rodents cause damage to your home? Does your homeowners insurance cover rat damage? In most cases, no. But there may be some exceptions. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team explains the ins and outs of when damage to your home caused by rodents may be covered and when it is usually not.

Key takeaways

  • Standard home insurance policies typically do not cover damage caused by rats or rodents, because rodent infestation is seen as preventable.
  • Damage caused by rodents may be covered in specific scenarios. For instance, if a rat chewed through a pipe and caused water damage, your insurance may pay out for the claim, since the damage was caused by the water.
  • Home insurance likely will not pay out to cover extermination services.

Is rodent damage covered by homeowners insurance?

Under a standard home insurance policy, damage to your dwelling, other structures and personal property will be covered up to policy limits if the damage was caused by covered perils. But you may be wondering: is rodent damage covered by homeowners insurance? Or does home insurance cover mice damage? The answer is usually no, as rodents are not considered a covered peril and thus the damage they cause is typically not covered by your home insurance policy. But why isn’t it covered? Home insurance companies see rodent infestation as a “preventable loss,” or an issue that could be avoided with proper maintenance, standard inspections and preventive measures.

Similarly, home insurance companies won’t typically cover damage caused by insect infestations, like termites or ants. Since these infestations are seen as preventable, with neglect or maintenance is typically the reason for infestation, and, as such, home insurance usually won’t cover the cost of pest extermination, either.

If you’re wondering what is covered in your specific home insurance policy, talk with your insurance agent.

Common damage caused by rats and other rodents

Rodent teeth are harder than copper, iron, aluminum and lead, which allows them to chew through metal, PVC pipes, drywall, rock, aluminum siding, glass, cinder blocks, wood, plastic containers and many other household materials. As such, rodents and rats can cause extensive damage to your dwelling. If a rodent enters your home, you may have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to rectify any damage done to your walls, wires or pipes.

After the cost of physical damage, you may want to factor in extermination, which typically costs between $176 and $580, according to HomeAdvisor.

When does homeowners insurance cover rat or rodent damage?

Does homeowners insurance cover rodent damage? It typically does not. However, your homeowners insurance may cover rodent damage in specified cases. For instance, if a rodent chews through an outdoor pipe which subsequently causes water damage, your home insurance may cover the damage. This loss may be covered since the rat wasn’t living in your home, and since water damage from a burst pipe is typically covered under standard home insurance policies. Or, if a rodent were to chew through wires on your property and create a house fire, your insurance may pay out to cover it, since the fire, not the rat, caused the damage to your home.

How to prevent rat or rodent damage to your home

Rodents can cause significant damage, but you don’t have to live in fear of an infestation. These concrete, proactive measures may help you prevent rodents from damaging your home.

  1. Eliminate points of entry. Rats can fit through holes as small as a quarter and mice can fit through holes as small as a dime, so you may want to seal off any openings in the exterior of your home – no matter how small.
  2. Find them before they cause damage. Look for the following signs of rodents, so that you can call an exterminator before your home is damaged: odor, noises, urine stains, grease marks, burrows, gnawing damage or droppings.
  3. Set traps: Traps can help catch and kill any rodents that invade your home. Humane traps are also available, which catch rats and hold them until you release the animal.
  4. Keep food in sealed containers: Exposed food may attract rats and other rodents. Putting food away, cleaning surfaces and placing cereal boxes inside of tough plastic bins may act as deterrents.

If you do find rats in your home, calling a professional exterminator will likely be the best way to remove the rodents from your dwelling.

Frequently asked questions

    • Standard home insurance policies typically include coverage for damage caused by wild animals, like bears or deer, but may not cover raccoon damage. Imagine if a bear crashes through your glass patio door and causes damage to the structure, like the door or floors and personal property. In these cases, you’d likely be covered. The distinction comes in classification because policies typically list exclusions for “insects, pests, rodents, and vermin,” so raccoons may be handled differently than wild animals. A claims adjuster or insurance agent can help you figure out whether or not raccoon damage is covered, depending on the situation.
    • According to the CDC, rodents can transmit diseases to humans, both directly and indirectly. These animals can carry plague, salmonellosis, rat-bite fever, Lyme disease, murine typhus, West Nile virus and more. To keep yourself and your family safe, you may want to keep your home sealed and clean, and call a professional at any sign of an infestation.
    • The best home insurance company for you may not be the best for someone else. Finding the best home insurance company will take some research and your personal evaluation since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to insurance. Each company offers different coverage options, endorsements and potential discounts. Finding the best one for you will depend on your situation and needs. First, consider what’s important to you, whether it’s customer satisfaction, price or coverage types. Then select a few companies that fit your criteria and request quotes for the same coverage limits and types and compare to see which one is best for you.