How animal damage is handled by auto insurance and homeowners insurance

You attempt to start your car one morning, and it won’t start. So you have it towed to your local repair shop and the mechanic delivers the bad news…… several electrical wires have been chewed through causing $$$ in damage. 

Diagnosis? Some pesky critter decided to make a meal of your car’s internal workings….

Animal damage and car insurance

And you’re hoping against hope your Ohio car insurance will cover the damage. Well, if you have comprehensive coverage, you’re in luck. Comprehensive coverage covers animal damage to your vehicle, just as if you hit an animal while driving. 

Comprehensive is usually subject to a deductible, so the insurance company will cut a check based on the estimate minus the deductible. 

And if you don’t have comprehensive coverage? Unfortunately, you’re out of luck and will have to pay for the repairs out of pocket. 

Animal damage and homeowners insurance

We’ve taken calls in the past where raccoons and squirrels have made their way inside a house and caused significant damage to the interior. Many will chew wires, but in some cases the damage is MUCH more extensive. How extensive you ask? Read this article concerning raccoons that got into a house and caused $80,000 in damage. YIKES! Photos are included….

However, UNLIKE the comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance, damage caused by rodents is specifically EXCLUDED under an Ohio homeowners insurance policy. In fact, the exclusion most likely names several types of animals. Here’s an exclusion pulled directly from one of our company’s homeowners policies:

“We” do not pay for loss resulting directly or indirectly from any of the following……
…….caused by: a. termites, vermin, insects, rodents, birds (except glass breakage), skunks, raccoons, spiders, reptiles or bats.

And another: Animals, Birds, Vermin, Rodents, or Insects — “We” do not pay for loss caused by animals owned or kept by an “insured”, birds, vermin, rodents, or insects.

And a final one: “We do not insure, however, for loss”……. Any of the following…. Birds, vermin, rodents, or insects.

Key Takeaways

In reading these exclusions, it’s important to note that there might be opportunity for interpretation, especially if the specific animal is NOT named. Vermin does seem to be a catchall category however. In any case, a call to your insurance agent is still the best course of action.

As you can see by the differences in the exclusions above, while most homeowners policies have a “critter” exclusion, each company can define that exclusion in different ways. Notice that not only are non-domestic animals noted, but the exclusion may also apply to your own domestic animals. It’s always best to contact your insurance company to know EXACTLY how the exclusion for YOUR Ohio homeowners insurance reads.

Prevention tips

At a minimum, an annual walk around your house would NOT be a bad idea. You can look for holes, openings that need covered or sealed, double check the chimney (and put a cap on if not already), check the windows/screens and look for access points that critters can use to get into the house. An attic is a popular place, so at minimum, you would want to check around your roof and windows in that area. Skylights are also a possible entry point. 

Final thoughts

When it comes to animal damage, insurance may or may not be able to help you out. Comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance will cover the animal damage, but damage caused by animals is normally an exclusion on the homeowners policy. When in doubt contact your insurance agent (preferably before the claim happens) to verify that your policies will or will not cover animal damage to your vehicle or home. 

Are you concerned your Ohio homeowners insurance policy may not provide the coverage you need? Call us at (937) 592-4871 or fill out the form below.

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