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Most standard home insurance policies won’t cover damage or infestation from small animals, like rodents and possums. Insurance companies generally classify rodent activity as preventable hazards if homeowners maintain and upkeep their homes. Most infestations do not happen suddenly and it’s the homeowners responsibility to identify the signs early. As such, rodent and pest damages are not covered by homeowners insurance.
However, there are some exceptions that involve nuances in your coverage. For instance, if rodents chewed through electrical wiring and caused a fire, the fire damage — which is a covered loss — would be covered.
What Kind of Damage Can Rodents Cause to Your House?
Rodents and mice have sharp, tough teeth that never stop growing; thus, they must constantly gnaw to keep their teeth in check. With teeth sometimes tougher than lead, copper, aluminum and wood, it’s easy for rodents to chew through drywall, PVC pipes, wood and stone.
Once rodents weasel their way into your home, they will make short work of your wiring. Rodents and insects are attracted to the heat from wires and will strip away the insulative layer of electrical components. This is how electrical fires can start.
Rodents who have moved into your home will begin hunting for food sources. Leaving out dirty pans and dishes and open bags of flour and sugar is an invitation for rodents to dine inside your home. Roaming critters can and will find easily accessible food, all while scattering feces on your floor, countertops and pantry. Storing food in airtight containers is a useful rodent deterrent but is not 100% guaranteed.
Damage to Your Living Space
As rodents explore your home, they leave behind a trail of germs, viruses, bacteria and even diseases. In some cases feces, urine and saliva may be laced with tularemia, salmonellosis and other deadly diseases. Over time, residents and pets can develop severe illnesses due to rodent contamination.
Rodents that chew through wood and fabric can also ruin your furniture and decor. Depending on the item, this can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in damages.
When Does Home Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Rodents or Animals?
Homeowners insurance will pay for damages if the rodent activity was related to some type of covered peril, such as fire and smoke. For example, homeowners insurance will cover the cost of fire and smoke damage from an electrical fire even if it was caused by rodents chewing through wires. We’ve listed some more possible scenarios that may be covered by a standard home policy.
- Fire: A rodent may chew through electrical wiring, triggering an electrical fire. The damages caused by the electrical fire may be covered by your home insurance company.
- Smoke: Adding to the prior example, you may also be reimbursed for damages caused by smoke from the electrical fire.
- Accidental discharge/overflow of water: If a rodent somehow interferes with any drainage pipes connected to appliances, like your washing machine or dishwasher, you may be covered if those appliances overflow and cause water damage to its surroundings.
Is Rodent Removal Paid for by Homeowners Insurance?
Typically, your home insurance policy will not pay for rodent extermination. Homeowners insurance may cover rodent removal only if you are able to prove that the infestation was a result of a covered event (listed above). For instance, if lightning or wind damaged your roof and left it exposed so rodents and pests could crawl in and make a home, your insurer may pay for rodent removal and repairs to your roof.
Your homeowners policy will cover wildlife damage — so if your house was damaged by animals like bears or deer, you could file a claim. Generally, smaller pest infestations are seen as preventable hazards.
Are There Scenarios Where I’m Covered for Hidden Defects?
You may be covered for hidden defects when rodent damage was not discovered before you bought your house. For example, if you paid for a professional home inspection that failed to recognize rodent damage or pest infestation, your homeowners policy may pay for related damages. However, if you simply ignored your inspector’s warnings, you would not qualify for coverage.
Alternatively, you may seek reimbursement directly from the home insurance company. If you had your house inspected and the inspector missed a major defect that resulted in significant rodent damage, then you may file a claim with their professional liability insurance company.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Rodent Damage to Cars?
Rodents can cause significant damage to your car, whether it’s parked in your garage, driveway or on the street. Your homeowners insurance won’t cover this type of damage, but your car insurance may reimburse you for repairs if you have comprehensive coverage. So if a rodent gnaws through your car’s wiring or you hit a deer, your comprehensive policy can protect you.
How To Prevent Rodent Damage to Your Home
Any home can be at risk for rodent damage, especially during the winter when critters are trying to stay warm and dry. There are several precautions that homeowners can take to prevent rodents from settling in.
- Regularly check your attic, crawlspaces and basement. Rodents will usually leave signs like droppings and will avoid frequently used spaces. It’s easy to let rodents go undetected if you don’t check the spaces you rarely use.
- Keep your food properly stored. Food that is secured in tamper-proof containers makes it harder for rodents to eat. Don’t leave pet food outside overnight and put the remaining food in the refrigerator. Make sure your garbage cans have tight lids, not swinging open lids.
- Wash your dishes right away and clean up spilled foods. Leaving food around can invite rodents to snack on the leftovers.
- Keep your place clutter-free. Rodents like to hide in clutter. A clean space will also make it easier to see signs of an infestation, like droppings.
- Identify any holes or cracks and seal them. Rodents can make their way into your home through the smallest of crevices. Go over your floorboards, windows and walls and seal any openings you find.
- Use repellents and no-kill traps. There are plenty of natural sprays and humane traps that can help prevent an infestation that are not toxic for your family and pets.
- Keep outside areas clean. Rodents are attracted to water and food, along with nesting places. Keep your trees and shrubbery trimmed and avoid placing bird feeders too close to your home — these can attract squirrels and other rodents. Also, keep your grills and outdoor cooking areas clean.
- Keep garbage in containers with tight lids, and clean them if there is spillage. Rodents may frequent areas where you dump your garbage. Also, keep composting bins 100 feet away from your house. Do your best to keep these areas clear and inaccessible to rodents.
Purchasing a home is a major life milestone. It’s important to get the right homeowners insurance to protect your investment. Researching and shopping around allows you to accommodate your budget and needs without compromising either. Consider using SmartFinancial to pair you with an insurer in your area offering the lowest rates on the market and reliable coverage. To get free home insurance quotes, just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291.