Homeowners Doesn’t Cover Damages From Bat Guano

bats A homeowners insurance policy is supposed to provide people with some financial protection in case something happens that causes damage to their home. It seems that it doesn’t cover all kinds of damages, though. For, example, it won’t cover damage done by bat guano.

When you buy a homeowners insurance policy, it is a good idea to read it over. The exact wording of the policy could come back to cause you problems later on. Anything that seems to be ambiguously worded could be used as a way for an insurer to get out of paying for claims that one would reasonably expect would be covered.

With that in mind, it is also important to know that a typical homeowners insurance policy will not cover damages caused by flooding, or earthquakes. You will need separate policies for that. It is frequently assumed that a homeowners policy covers those things, when, in reality, it will not.

Sometimes, it is the most bizarre claims that get refused. A couple in El Paso, Texas, learned the hard way that their homeowners insurance doesn’t cover the damage that was done to their home by hundreds of dead birds.

They were living in the house, for years, before they discovered the birds. The furnace broke one day, and this led to an investigative trip to the attic, where the bodies of the birds were found. The damage caused by the birds, their corpses, and the excrement, mites, tics, and fleas they left behind, spread contagion through the vents in the house. The couple’s homeowners insurer denied their claim to cover the damages.

It turns out that homeowners insurance won’t cover damages from bat guano, either. Joel and Evelyn Hirschhorn found this out. They live in Florida, but they owned a vacation home in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin. They had arranged monthly inspections and maintenance of the house when they weren’t vacationing there.

In May of 2007, the couple decided to sell the house. In July of that same year, a real estate broker noticed a foul smell in the house. The Hirschhorns noticed it too, when they vacationed in the home in August. An investigation determined that the smell was coming from a massive accumulation of bat guano. It was inside the siding, and the walls. There was no guarantee that this could be fixed, so the Hirschhorns ended up filing a claim of total property loss. The home was demolished.

The Hirschhorn’s homeowners insurer, Auto-Owners Insurance Company, denied their claim. The couple sued, and won their case. An appeal was filed by the insurer, who won the next case. The judges picked out the exact wording of the contract, and decided that “waste” did not include excrement. The policy covered damages due to “waste”. It wouldn’t cover damages from bat guano.

Image by m00by on Flickr