Cool Weather Critter Conflicts
As cooler weather prompts us, humans, to spend more time indoors, animals are also likely to be looking for protection from the elements. Unfortunately, conflicts with animals can be costly for homeowners.
Large animals have been known to cause structural damage. Deer may shatter glass doors; bears will enter a home through a large window or screen door (DNR). Small animals can also cause big problems. Raccoons may enter an open garage door or a pet door and wreak havoc in your garage or home.
Whether or not the damage is covered by your homeowner's insurance may depend on the type of animal causing the problems. Damage caused by raccoons, bats, opossums, and groundhogs is typically covered, while damage from squirrels, rats, and mice is not, as these are classified as rodents (Critter Control).
Damage caused by an animal not classified as a rodent may, thankfully, extend beyond the walls of your home. Your garage, deck, or porch will also likely be covered, and if a structure on your property is damaged that is not connected to your house, you may still be covered under “structures coverage” (Critter Control). Such structures may include a detached garage, shed, or fence (Critter Control).
The best news is that if you have not yet experienced animal damage, there are steps you can take to prevent it from becoming your problem.
- Inspect your roof, porch, and basement regularly to look for openings. Cover and/or seal even tiny spaces or cracks (NPIC); any openings larger than one-fourth to one-half inch should be caulked.
- “Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft guards beneath doors to attics, and flll electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking” (these CDC recommendations are especially helpful for avoiding bats).
- Keep tight-fitting lids on any garbage containers. Consider metal containers rather than plastic.
- Empty any food bowls you use to feed pets outside as soon as they are done eating and store pet food inside or in heavy containers (NPIC).
- If bears live in your area, be aware that a bear’s sense of smell is seven times greater than that of a bloodhound and 2,100 times that of a human (NIEH). This may prompt you to put away food from an outdoor meal sooner than you otherwise would. You would also be wise to keep food stored and sealed away rather than left out on counters or tables near an open window or screen door.
If you are not sure what your homeowner’s policy or renter’s policy covers, or if you are interested in an update, give us a call at Waitte’s Insurance Agency. We would be happy to discuss policy options to fit your unique needs.
Center for Disease Control
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Department of Natural Resources
National Institute of Environmental Health
National Pesticide Information Center