Help! I've got woodpecker damage on my home!
Bees infested my attic and honey is dripping down the wall! Raccoons chewed holes in my house! All of these statements are usually followed with one question to the insurance agent..."Am I covered?" Unfortunately, the answer is always the same, "Sorry, no." But why? It's not YOUR fault the creatures "ate your house"! To answer that question, we'll look at two reasons, policy exclusions and what insurance is designed to cover.
Let's start with the first one, policy exclusions. Most homeowners don't take the time to read their entire policies, but one area you should take time to read is the Exclusions section. The standard homeowners policy exclusions we are referring to are listed under the Property section of your policy. Once you find the Exclusions section under the Property section, keep reading and you will find one that reads: We do not cover loss resulting directly or indirectly from: and then another list. Keep reading and you will find one of the items clearly listed is: birds, vermin, rodents or insects. So the first reason that this damage is not covered is simply because, that is what's stated in your insurance contract. But...WHY is it excluded? Well to explain that, we need to look at our second reason.
What is insurance meant to cover? Insurance is and has always been designed to protect you from financial loss due to a sudden and accidental occurrence. Insurance is to make you whole again after something unexpected happens, like fire, lightning or wind damage. All of those events are sudden events that couldn't be prevented. But what about woodpecker damage? How could that be prevented?
Regular home maintanence. Hear some pounding on the house? Call an exterminator because the birds are after food...meaning you could have an insect infestation in your wood. What if the porcupines ate your house while you were gone for the winter? Unfortunately, again this was not sudden or accidental. This damage would have occurred over time and therefore doesn't fall in line with what insurance was designed for. But, how could this be prevented or damage minimized? By having a property manager regularly walk the property to be sure everything is okay - this would catch any damage early and prevent further cost to you.
So in summary, what's a homeowner to do? Remember that an insurance policy is designed to protect you from a sudden and accidental loss. Have a regular home maintenance program in place to protect you from the rest. Regularly checking your property, inside and out, to be sure everything is in order is invaluable insurance that you provide for yourself. Be proactive and keep your investment safe and sound!
Until next time, I'm still yet.....Nancy