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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Rodent Damage?

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Every homeowners insurance is drastically different. When reading the fine print, it can become overwhelming. Some homeowners look for specific instances of coverage, while others want a general overview. One specific instance, many homeowners are curious about it whether rodent damage is covered by insurance.

Homeowners insurance will cover single identifiable events that may have escalated by rodent damage. However, if negligence is involved, it will disqualify the event. Additionally, homeowners insurance will not cover pest removal or extermination as this is considered maintenance.

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There are a lot of ifs and whens regarding rodent or pest coverage. These uncertainties can cause a lot of questions. Below we dive into each of these questions to help you decipher what insurance really covers and what it won’t.

Key facts
  • Rodent infestations and removal are not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies.
  • Rodents that cause a problem to turn into a large, covered event that is not due to negligence are usually covered by homeowners’ policies.
  • It is important to use proactive measures to prevent rodents from entering your home to minimize the risk of damage.

Rodent damage or infestation: generally not covered

It is important to point out that, in general, rodent damage is not covered. If you have an infestation of mice that run amuck and eat your vehicle, chew on your grill, or cause similar havoc, the damage and replacement costs will come out of your pocket.

Homeowners insurance expects an owner to hire an exterminator or other similar maintenance for this type of problem. Due to this, rodent problems and the accompanying costs are not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy.

Instances that increase an insured loss

It is important to note that if a rodent infestation increases the damage to a loss that would otherwise be insured, the damage due to this would be covered. But what exactly does that mean? Here are some examples:

  • A rodent sneaks into your house and makes a nest. The rodent and its new babies and family members start gnawing on the wires in your walls. One of these wires sparks and causes a fire. Your insurance company will cover the damage from the fire.
  • If a windstorm knocks off some siding and a rodent sneaks in and makes a home in your wall, it may also start to eat at the wood. If the wood is a support beam, and a collapse occurs due to this, then your insurance company would likely pay for the event.

In each of these instances, a rodent is involved, but it is not the main cause of the damage at hand. Fire or collapse is the main cause. These issues are covered in most standard homeowners insurance policies and would be considered covered perils.

Single identifiable events

Another instance in which the insurance company will likely cover the damage caused by a rodent is during a single identifiable event. These events could look like:

  • If a mole or chipmunk burrows into the ground and snacks on your underground piping, it can cause it to leak or let go. The water could spread and cause damage to your foundation. This damage is covered by most standard homeowners policies.
  • If a squirrel decides to live on your roof and eats at your sprinkler system, which fails when a fire starts, this will be a covered event. The fire itself is the main event, the unforeseen unexpected incident is considered the sprinkler system malfunction.

These examples are caused by an outside event but are further exacerbated due to rodent damage. Due to their nature, they would e covered under a homeowner policy because the original event is still considered a covered peril.

Common damages caused by rodents

Rodents may seem small, but they may be able to cause huge damage to your home. Since 40% of the mammal species is part of the rodent family, it may seem fair that you fear that they will be taking over your home soon.

  1. Rodents are known for being ferocious when it comes to chewing. They will chew on your personal property and even items with a high value. Since they can chew on almost everything, it may be too late before the homeowner notices the damage caused by the rodents.
  2. Other homeowners have reported that rodents have destroyed their wires, which increases the chance of fire. Since the wires are exposed, the risk for fire may also increase significantly.
  3. Stronger rodents may be able to bite pipes and it may be able to cause flooding when water begins to leak. Regardless if the hole is small, water may still leak and the longer this goes on, there is a higher risk for property damage.
  4. If the rodent has made a residence of your home, their nests can be made from materials chewed off your property. Moreover, they may also carry in diseases and bacteria with them. If they live in ducts, the structure may be compromised. However, the damage might be even greater since rodents may bring in diseases.
  5. When rodents touch your food, it may pose health issues that may eventually lead to food poisoning. There are also diseases caused by exposure to rodents. HPS and Leptospirosis may happen if open wounds come in contact with rat urine or poop. There are even known instances where exposure to rats and other rodents can cause fatality.

Preventing rodent damage

One of the best ways to combat rodent damage is to take proactive measures to ensure they do not inhabit or infest your home. Rodents are hard to deal with on a good day, and keeping up with a pest control plan will help save you money in the long run. Some things you can do to protect your home from rodents are:

  • Seal holes and crevices. This should be done inside and outside. A mouse can fit into a hole that is only the size of a quarter. That means it can almost get into anything. 
  • Remove clutter. Rodents adore hanging around in clutter because it is warm and serves as a good nest. Keep your garage orderly and sheds organized. Keep items off the floor, and be sure to sweep regularly.
  • Seal and store food properly. Rodents are very food motivated. If you leave food out at home, in the garage, or in a vehicle, they will get in to try to eat whatever parts they can. They then try to move in close by to keep up the food source. Keep trash outside and seal leftovers in airtight containers.
  • Inspect your basement and attic. Rodents like to live in basements and attics. There is less human interaction and a lot of insulation to live in. Be sure to check in every few months to see if there are any rodent droppings. This is a sign you have a nest that needs to be handled quickly.
  • Use traps. There is a large number of traps and baits available at most department stores and home improvement stores. Use them to repel the rodents from your home and prevent them from causing more damage.

Rodent-proofing your home is key to preventing large instances of damage. If you have a rodent problem and have tried all the home remedies, consider hiring a pest control expert to help you. Rodents can cause a lot of damage, and it is always more cost-effective to hire professional help to remove them than let them go to cause problems down the road.

Rodents are a bane to homes

When it comes to rodents, they are not a welcome sight in many homes. They can cause a lot of destruction and are very unsanitary. It is important to try to keep them away from home at all costs to prevent damage. If you do suffer from rodent damage and need to see if it is covered, call your insurance agent to walk them through the scenario. They will help you determine whether or not a claim is appropriate.

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Katelyn is a freelance copy editor and writer based in Massachusetts. She holds Bachelor's Degrees in Business Administration and Political Science, both from Fitchburg State University, as well as a Master's Degree in Public Administration from UMass Amherst. In her free time, Katelyn enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.
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