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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Animal Damage?

When it comes to unusual home insurance claims, animals can be the culprits. Learn more about navigating the claims process for these unique occurrences.

When the unexpected happens to your house, you turn to your home insurance company to help with the costs of repairing the damage. But what if an animal’s destructive behavior is the cause of your claim? It can depend on the animal and the damage done by the animal. From a deer breaking into your home on the hunt for food, to your cat knocking over a candle and starting a fire in your home, animal-related claims present unique considerations. Depending on the situation, your insurance company may or may not cover the cost of repairs. Find out how a quirky claim may play out.

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

Is rodent damage covered by homeowners insurance?

If your loss is due to a pest control issue, like damage from a rodent or insect infestation, the claim will not be covered. This is because the standard homeowners insurance policy (HO3) specifically excludes damage caused by insects and rodents. But in the example of a deer jumping through your home’s picture window, the cost of repairs would be covered. A difference between a pest control issue and a deer jumping through your window is that pest infestation is an issue that occurs over time, and a deer jumping through your window is sudden and accidental. Homeowners insurance tends to cover sudden and accidental damages and not those that happen over time. 

Are insect infestations covered by homeowners insurance?

The standard homeowners policy (HO3) excludes damage caused by birds, rodents or insects. It also doesn’t cover nesting or infestation, or discharge or release of waste products or secretions, by any birds, rodents or insects. To determine if an animal is a rodent or not, insurers turn to the common dictionary definition. Rats, mice and squirrels are defined as rodents, so therefore, damages resulting from them are excluded. However, raccoons and skunks aren’t defined as rodents but rather as mammals. Therefore, coverage may apply for dwelling damage (damage to your home) based on the open peril definition. Under the standard homeowners policy (HO3), animals aren’t one of the 16 named perils; therefore, there would be no coverage for any damaged personal property.

How to file a claim for animal damage

If you find yourself dealing with one of these unpredictable situations, make sure you report the incident as soon as possible and document any relevant details. It can be helpful to snap some photos of the damage, if it’s safe to do so. To aid in resolving your claim, a claims adjuster will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the loss.

Most homeowners policies have conditions requiring homeowners to protect their property from additional damage. In an event like a deer breaking through your window, you should cover the window with a tarp or plywood to prevent the elements or strangers from entering and causing more damage. Amica’s Contractor Connection program provides emergency board-up services. But that’s only temporary, of course. 

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1 Coverage may vary by provider and state. Please contact your insurance provider to confirm.
2 Coverage may vary by state. Please contact Amica Insurance to confirm policy and coverage details.
3 Details of claims are reviewed in their entirety before determining if coverage would apply. 
 

Your Policy, Policy Declarations or Amended Declarations in effect on the date of loss is the primary source of reference for your coverage, coverage limits and deductible amounts.

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