If you own a home near the woods, you are probably already familiar with the sounds and habits of raccoons, snakes, and even the occasional bear. You probably also know that the damage a wild animal can cause to your home and personal property can be costly, especially if extensive repairs and restoration are required.
Generally speaking, a standard home or mobile home insurance policy will cover damage to your home by a wild animal so long as the animal is not a rodent. Rats and mice are rodents, raccoons, opossums, skunks, birds, and bats are not. The damage must have occurred in a single, identifiable event, not over a time period where you could have taken some kind of preventive action.
You may have heard that damage by a wild animal can be covered if the damage can be defined as vandalism or malicious intent. However, “intent” and “malice” are terms used to define vandalism in most policies, and a wild animal cannot develop either of these very human characteristics. So do not assume then that coverage for vandalism will cover damage by a family of hungry raccoons.
When considering a home insurance policy, take time to describe to an agent a few possible scenarios where damages are caused by a wild animal or animals. Then ask whether or not the policy offers coverage in the case of each possible scenario.
Some Possible Scenarios for Homeowners to Discuss With an Insurance Agent:
You return home from a vacation to find the interior of your house and many of your belongings have been damaged and contaminated by a single or perhaps several animals. Are you covered?
Your policy will need to include coverage for damage by a wild animal or define the vandalism in terms that would allow you to claim the damage accordingly. Ask your agent to clarify what your policy does and does not cover..
Over the course of several weeks you hear scratching in your ceiling and smell unpleasant smells. After several weeks, you discover that a family of raccoons have invaded your attic and contaminated it with feces, urine, and nesting materials. Are you covered?
Raccoons are not considered rodents and therefore, coverage for the damage is possible. However, in this scenario, most insurance companies will assume you sat on your hands and didn’t take any preventive action as your attic was slowly being contaminated. Insurance companies are much more likely to cover damage that occurs in a single, identifiable event. Again, speak to your agent to determine what type of coverage is possible, especially if you live in an area with a lot of wildlife.
A possum damages a gas line beneath your house, gas leaks, and your house catches on fire. (Let’s assume you were not home at the time and thankfully nobody animal or otherwise was harmed!) Are you covered?
Damage and loss from fire is covered in standard home insurance policies. Most standard home insurance policies will cover damage that occurs in a single, identifiable event. The fact that in this scenario, the damage was caused by a wild animal doesn’t determine whether or not you will be covered.