Homeowners insurance helps cover the cost of property damage caused by things like fire, bad weather, and burst pipes, but what about damage caused by animals? Well, the answer isn’t as clear cut.
Property damage caused by insects and smaller mammals like squirrels, mice, bats and raccoons is typically excluded from home insurance coverage, and damage to your personal belongings (like furniture and appliances) is never covered. Instances like this are often considered a matter of property maintenance for which the policyholder is responsible. Damage caused by your own pets is also never covered.
There are a couple instances, however, where your insurer could be more lenient.
Homeowners insurance generally won’t cover property damage caused by animals, including birds, insects, rodents, or vermin. Pest removal also isn’t covered
Damage caused by household pets also isn’t covered by homeowners insurance
If your property is damaged by a larger animal like a deer or bear, you’d likely be covered for repairs
Does homeowners insurance cover wild animal damage?
According to a standard homeowners insurance policy, policyholders are not insured for loss caused by “birds, vermin, rodents, or insects.” That means if a family of pigeons or rats takes up residence in your attic, or raccoons chew their way through your home, you wouldn’t be covered for removal or damages.
On the other hand, if the animal damage is a one-off occurrence — like a grizzly bear breaking into and wreaking havoc on your home — your insurer may be more lenient and cover the damage. In general, your insurance company is more likely to cover damage caused by larger wild animals as opposed to smaller ones that could be considered vermin.
You also may be covered for things like infestations or wild animal damage if the proximate cause of the infestation is a covered peril in your policy. If a storm causes a tree to fall on your roof, for example, and a wild animal uses it as an opportunity to climb inside, you may be covered for any resulting damage it causes to your home. But again, these are all big maybes and the particulars of your coverage as it relates to animal damage will vary from policy to policy.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover property loss resulting from rodents or vermin, so rat damage and removal of a rat or mouse infestation would not be covered.
If the infestation is hidden away and causes a section of your house to collapse or causes an electrical fire, your insurer may help cover the cost of repairs, but you’d have to prove you had no knowledge of the infestation.
Learn more about home insurance and rat damage
Raccoon and squirrel damage
Although raccoons and squirrels are truly wild animals and don’t take up residence in people’s homes at the same frequency as rodents and other pests, raccoon damage is likely not covered by homeowners insurance. Along with other types of smaller mammals like possums and groundhogs, raccoons are considered vermin by most insurance companies.
Even though you probably wouldn’t classify a bat as vermin, many insurance companies do, and will exclude bat damage and removal from coverage — this is ultimately going to depend on the language in your specific policy.
Learn more about home insurance and bat removal
Does homeowners insurance cover insect infestations?
Like wild animals, insects can cause expensive property damage in a variety of ways, but the circumstances under which insect damage is covered are very narrow.
Similar to the case with animals, if an insect infestation is hidden from plain view and causes a section of your home to collapse, you may be covered for repairs. According to a standard policy, you’re covered for collapse (of your home or another insured structure) if it’s caused by “insect or vermin damage that is hidden from view, unless the presence of such damage is known to an ‘insured’”. Again, it will depend on the type of loss that occurred and the language in your policy.
In most circumstances, home insurance will not help cover the cost of termite damage.
If the proximate cause of the infestation is a covered hazard, you may have some wiggle room in terms of coverage, but even then you’d have to prove the covered event directly caused the termites to inhabit your home.
If the infestation is hidden out of sight and causes a floor to fall through, you could potentially be covered for repairs.
Learn more about homeowners insurance and termites
Bed bug removal
Bed bugs and cockroaches may not chew through your property like other types of pests, but they can still prove to be an expensive problem when they find their way into your home. Unfortunately, removal of any of the aforementioned critters are not covered by homeowners insurance.
Learn more about homeowners insurance and bed bugs
Homeowners insurance won’t cover the cost of damage caused by bees, nor bee removal. Similar to any pest infestation, if the underlying cause is a covered event in your policy, you may be covered.
Learn more about homeowners insurance and bee removal
Does homeowners insurance cover household pet damage?
Homeowners insurance can help cover legal and medical expenses in the event your dog severely injures a guest or passerby, but any damage it causes to your own house or personal belongings is not covered.
According to a standard policy, any damage caused by animals “owned or kept by an insured” is not covered. That means if Fido chews through your couch cushion, you’d have to pay for a new one out of your own pocket.
However, if your neighbor’s dog damages your property, they would technically be liable for the loss and you could potentially collect a payout via their insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have pets, do you have to tell your insurance company?
Yes, if you own a dog or a pet that could be considered exotic (like a snake or llama) you’ll need to inform your insurance company or potentially risk having your claim rejected. Dog liability may be covered by homeowners insurance, but only if your insurer is aware that you own one.
Does homeowners insurance cover dog attacks?
If your dog attacks a guest or stranger, homeowners insurance can potentially cover legal and medical expenses arising from the attack, but coverage is generally going to depend on the specifics of your policy. Some insurance companies won’t cover dog breeds they consider aggressive or dangerous.
Which dog breeds are often excluded from coverage?
Many insurance companies won’t cover certain dog breeds that they deem to be too dangerous or high-risk. Some insurers may even refuse to insure you or cancel your policy if you own a breed that’s considered to be aggressive, like pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German shepards.