Will Homeowners Insurance Pay for Raccoon Damage?
Who was that masked man, er, critter? Don’t worry; it’s just your
friendly neighborhood raccoon out for a stroll in the evening air.
This cute little thing wouldn’t hurt a fly, and certainly wouldn’t
damage your property, right?
Wrong! The property damage done be raccoons in the United States is,
uh, unknown because the US government doesn’t keep records just on
raccoons. But common sense says that the removal and repair of the
damage raccoons cause on a yearly basis must be quite high. This is
because many property insurance policies include something called a
“vermin clause” and uses it to try to deny claims for this type of
damage. However, until 2007, “vermin” wasn’t clearly defined, which
turned out to be a good thing for homeowners.
All this was based on 2 lawsuits filed in 1984 and 1988 that ruled
that insurance had to pay for this type of damage. That was great,
until 2007 when the American Association of Insurance Services
(AAIS) redrafted the language of the vermin clause to reads “an
animal of a type that is prone to enter or burrow into or under a
structure to seek food or shelter, including raccoons.” Wow! That is
a blow to homeowners.
Raccoons can chew holes in roofs, or under the eaves, destruction of
insulation and drywall, and HVAC systems; not to mention that their
droppings can get into that HVAC system and cause major health
problems for the proper occupants of the house. The health risks
associated with raccoons can be everything from rabies to roundworms
and parasites found in their poop. The good news is the chance of
actually catching anything from them is very small. The bad news is
that in order to clean up your attic, you need Hasmat gear.
To protect yourself from having a claim denied, read your policy
thoroughly and find out what you are actually covered for and what
is not covered. Some insurance companies do cover the damage, but
some do not because the problem can be caused by poor home
maintenance. In some cases, if you live in an area that is highly
populated with raccoons, you may be able to get a rider to cover
this. Read it carefully! Know what you are covered for; and keep
your house in good repair. Raccoons are cute from a distance, but
not when they move in uninvited.
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