Squirrel Causes Damage to a Home: Would You be Covered?
It’s not often that homeowners’ insurance topics make news, but when they do, it’s usually because something odd, bizarre, or weird happened. Such is the case very recently, when a family’s home was destroyed not by flood, sewage backup, hurricane or tornado…but by an invading squirrel.
Squirrel Tears up Home
The incident happened while the family was out of town. From what they can tell, the squirrel got caught in the chimney and tried to fight its way out. It did…and then ended up inside the (then vacant) home, where it then had to fight its way out by scratching baseboards, tearing up furniture, and tracking debris from the chimney all over the house.
The family’s in-home security system actually alerted them to what was going on, and they even had a neighbor go in and check. However, the neighbor found nothing at the time.
It sounds kind of funny when a small, woodland creature makes a mess of property, but in fact, small rodents can do serious damage to people’s homes. Unfortunately, many insurance policies refuse to cover damage done by vermin, rodents, or rats, because they consider these animals to be things that can be avoided by the homeowner’s routine inspection and maintenance of the property. They are not considered unavoidable, surprise events that can’t be anticipated.
Sure enough, the family’s insurance company refused to pay the damages, citing to the exclusionary language in the insurance policy. Their insurance company was quick to point out that the exclusion is standard. They did offer to pay for the family to stay at a hotel if they could not remain in the home while it was being fixed (at their own expense).
Many insurance policies differentiate between damage done by “wild animals,” such as deer, elk, or bear (and potentially, in Florida, invading alligator), and damage by rodents, insects or vermin (like squirrels) which is not covered.
But what a “wild animal” is isn’t always clear. For example, a raccoon could be considered a wild animal, but could also be considered vermin, akin to rats.
Even if Damage is Covered, Be Aware
Even if rodent damage is covered, like any damage to your property, is on you to recognize the signs of damage, and act quickly. For example, if you see rodent droppings, and chewed up baseboards, but wait until a rodent destroys your wiring before calling your homeowners’ insurance company, the insurance company could say you waited too long.
Additionally, remember that your homeowners’ policy may or may not cover your personal property. That means that even if that raccoon or squirrel chews your wiring and causes a flood, which is covered, each policy will say something different when it comes to replacing personal property that was damaged in the flood.
If your insurance company is acting unreasonably, or saying damage to your home is not covered by your insurance policy, fight back. Contact the Miami property damage insurance attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today with any questions you may have.