How does homeowners insurance cover animal damage?
Let’s take a closer look at which types of damage caused by animals might be covered by your insurance. To start, a standard homeowners insurance policy (unendorsed HO3) has different guidelines for coverage to the structure (your home) and your personal property. The home is covered under what is referred to as “open perils,” or causes of loss. This means that if the cause of loss is not specifically excluded in the policy, you should have coverage for it.1 Your personal property coverage uses 16 “named perils” to verify if coverage exists. A peril is a specific cause of loss covered by your homeowners insurance policy, such as windstorm, fire or theft. If your personal property is damaged by something outside of those 16 perils, there may not be coverage.
This means if the deer that jumped through your window caused damage to your home, such as scratches to your hardwood floor, a standard home insurance policy would cover the damage to your window and flooring. However, if the deer also damaged your furniture and ate your food, these items would not be covered, as damage caused by animals is not one of the 16 named perils.
A policy with broader coverage, such as Amica’s Platinum Choice® Home Policy (HO5), could provide coverage for your contents in this situation. That’s because it provides “open perils” coverage for your personal property in addition to your home.2
Now let’s look at damage caused by a pet. Let’s say you have an HO3 and your cat accidentally knocked over a burning candle that started a fire in your home. While most homeowners policies exclude coverage for damage to your home caused by owned pets, the ensuing fire damage to the home would be covered. Regarding the fire damage to your personal property, since fire is one of the 16 named perils, coverage would apply.3