Published October 6, 2020|5 min read
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It doesn’t take a huge hole for a bat to enter your home — bats can squeeze through cracks and even crawl beneath doors — but once they enter, they must be safely removed before they damage your home or get you and your family sick. Home insurance typically won’t pay to remove a bat. Your homeowners insurance may, however, cover bat-related damage to your home and personal property under certain circumstances.
Whether bat damage and infestations are covered depends on your insurer and on the circumstances of the damage. Most home insurance companies will cover damage that is sudden and accidental, but gradual damage caused by maintenance issues, like if bats entered your home through a poorly maintained roof, may not be covered.
Bats can carry a number of insects and parasites that can pose a threat to your health. It’s important to act quickly when you notice one on your property or in your home, and you should consider hiring a professional to safely remove any bats from your home. After you do, there are a few preventative strategies you can take to keep those pesky creatures at bay.
Homeowners insurance typically won’t cover the costs to remove a bat from your home or property
You may receive coverage for some forms of bat-related damage depending on where and how the damage occurred
You should hire a professional to remove to safely remove a bat, but there are several preventative strategies you can implement on your own to keep uninvited guests away
Whether a bat enters your home through a crack in your attic wall or your own front door, your home insurance will most likely not pay to remove it. Homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover the removal of bats or any other animals, birds, or fish.
Many home insurance companies will view the a bat in your home or a bat infestation as a maintenance issue since they often enter the home through pre-existing holes in the home’s walls or roof. Generally speaking, home insurance won’t cover maintenance issues like leaky roofs or openings created by wear and tear, so any maintenance repairs that would prevent future critters from entering your home would also be excluded from coverage.
Homeowners insurance also won’t pay to remove rodents, bed bugs, and other pest infestations.
Homeowners insurance will cover most types of damage that are “sudden and accidental”, meaning damage that cannot be anticipated or prevented. When it comes to bats, their excrement or “guano”, is one of the most common forms of damage they can cause, and it carries a pungent smell and a potentially dangerous fungus that could lead to infection.
Homeowners insurance may deny a guano-related claim since the damage from a bat colony infesting your home over time is not sudden and could’ve been prevented before getting worse. However some homeowners insurance companies are more likely to cover bat remediation than others, so speak to your insurance company if your home requires clean-up after a bat, or bats, have been removed.
Coverage for bat damage also varies based on where the damage occurred. Damage to your home’s frame and roof are generally covered, as well as other structures on your property, but your personal belongings might not be, meaning your homeowners insurance might cover the clean-up of your attic walls after bats have been removed, but not the damage to any furniture or other items you stored up there.
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In general, homeowners insurance is more likely to pay for bat damage if the expulsion of the bats is dealt with promptly. But if a bat, or bats, enter your home in any of the following circumstances, you likely won’t be reimbursed for any damage they cause:
Homeowners insurance generally won’t cover a loss that occurs when a home’s been unoccupied for 60 days or more. If bats move into your home while you’re abroad on a six-month trip, your insurance company won’t pay for the resulting damage.
That’s because when a vacant home is damaged, the cause and date of the damage are difficult to pinpoint, and the fact that no one is there to prevent it allows the damage to get worse over time. To cover your home while you’re away, you may be able to add vacant and unoccupied homeowners insurance to your policy for an additional premium.
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest threats of a bat entering your home is their guano. Over time, guano can build up to form a smelly, sticky slime that is not only difficult to remove from the home, but can also leave a stench even after it’s gone. This stench can also be classified as a “pollution” which may be excluded from coverage in your policy. If the bats entered your home through holes in the roof that you knew about but didn’t fix, your claims are also likely to be denied, since the bat infestation was caused by neglect or poor maintenance.
The best way to avoid costly damage from bats is to take measures to prevent them from entering your home. Start by patching up any cracks or holes in the following places:
Beneath exterior doors
Pest professionals also suggest investing in liquid, gel, or ultrasonic repellents to make your home less appealing to bats and other creatures.
Some bat species are endangered, and bats can pose a health risk to humans, so you should always consult a professional before trying to capture one yourself. If this is not an option, you can take the following steps to safely remove a bat from your home:
Keep near a wall - You’re less likely to come in contact with the bat if you stay against the walls because they tend to fly higher near the walls and lower in the center of a room, according to the MSPCA
Wear thick gloves - You should never try to catch a bat with your bare hands; handle a bat using work gloves or gloves made of a thick material like leather. Also, be sure not to use a towel, as a bat’s claws can get stuck in the loops, and don’t use cotton gloves because bats can bite through them, according to The Humane Society of the United States
Grab a container and a piece of stiff paper to capture the bat - Once the bat has landed (most likely somewhere it can hang), gently place the container over it and carefully slide a piece of stiff paper underneath to trap it
Release the bat - Most bats can’t take flight from a horizontal surface, so when it’s ready to be released, go outside and tilt the container so the bat can fly out from an angle. You can also choose to place the closed container near a tree trunk or similar vertical surface to help the bat take off
A bat infestation can pose a significant health risk to you and your family. Bat guano — which is the most common type of bat damage from infestations — can expose humans to rabies, bacterial growth, and a fungus that can lead to infection. If you suspect you have a bat infestation on your property, contact a wildlife removal expert or a bat control specialist to check it out and safely remove the colony if your inklings were correct.
After you’ve discovered a bat colony, contact your insurance company to see if you’ll be covered for any of the damage they’ve caused.
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