The Hammer comes down
on wild animal insurance

No, this isn’t referring to your ex!

By Linda Hammerschmid

Did you know that most home insurance policies do not cover damage sustained as a result of animals i.e. bears, raccoons, snakes, ants, rodents (people!)?

So for those of you, particularly those with country estates, you might want to check with your insurance agent/broker to see if you are covered and, if not, is there an add-on for this should you be in an area susceptible to this form of damage.

Some policies, for homeowners who live near woods, or own mobile homes, do contain such coverage but it is usually limited in scope and doesn’t cover gradual deterioration such as long term damage caused by pesky ants or rodents.

Homeowners insurance therefore needs to either specifically cover wild animal damage or define ‘vandalism’ in such a way that would allow you to cover the damage sustained due to animals. Then it comes down to defining “wild animals” which can include bears, raccoons, opossums, skunks (yuck), birds and bats, but not ants, mice or rats (the more likely culprits). Most likely squirrels fall into the covered category but those other ‘rodents’ do not, probably because they are more likely to enter your home and cause problems. So of course insurance companies deny coverage! After all, how else can they make any profits, particularly with Mother Nature acting up as she has been recently.

Homeowners insurance therefore needs to either specifically cover wild animal damage or define ‘vandalism’ in such a way that would allow you to cover the damage sustained due to animals.

And even if your policy does cover rodent damage, be prepared for potential denials of coverage if, say for instance, you heard rumblings in the ceiling, or attic, but did nothing over the course of several weeks (or months)! Just as with flood damage, the policy holder has a primary obligation to minimize damages by:

– Not leaving belongings sitting in the water.
– By cleaning out the water as quickly as possible.
– By reporting the damage.

Decades ago, I read a fictional novel about the insurance industry that spoke to the directives of one such company to deny all claims submitted on the basis that only 50% of policy holders refused would insist on being reimbursed. Those 50% were again to be refused so that finally maybe only 25% of those persistent enough to insist would get actual coverage thereby saving the company 75%. Yes, I said fictional but you should be persistent when making claims.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caAnimal damage may also be covered, without specifically added protection, via your ‘dwelling’ or “other structures’” protection. For example, a large animal runs into your patio door, or fence (a moose for sure can knock down both) so you may be able to seek repair costs that way. Structure damage may not cover personal property loss, so, again, best to review your policy coverage before damage ensues.

Of course, you should weigh the pros of claiming for repairs against your deductible to determine if it is worthwhile to make a claim (not to mention the potential premium increase come renewal time).

And lastly, damage caused by your indoor pets, be they dog, cat, pig or other, most likely won’t be covered.

So good luck out there and review those policies.

Image: Michael Fraley via StockPholio.com

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linda hammerschmid

Me Linda Hammerschmid is an attorney and has been practicing Family Law since 1982. She is the Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates at 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290. She is a founding and current member, and past Secretary (28 years) of The Family Law Association of Quebec. She is a frequent guest on CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD, providing commentary on Family Law.

You can also hear her regularly on the CJAD show “Passion” with Dr. Laurie Betito, the last Thursday of each month. She and her dog Mac are members of Therapeutic Paws giving joy to the less fortunate. Me Hammerschmid can be reached at (514) 846-1013 or by e-mail at hammerschmid@vif.com. All inquiries will be treated confidentially.

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