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Claim Chronicles of the Mishap Family – The Raccoons

Meet the Mishaps: Liability Larry and Catastrophe Cathy are married with two kids, Deductible Dudley and Peril Polly, and a dog, Risk. As their name would imply, they are often faced with very unfortunate circumstances. What’s worse, everyone around them seems to get caught up in their bad luck, too!

Join us each month as we dive into some of the adversity that comes their way, all from the insurance perspective!

The Story

The day Larry and Cathy Mishap were able to purchase their summer cottage upstate was one of their happiest. Larry had summered by the lake throughout most of his childhood and Cathy always wanted a little getaway place where the family could spend quality time together. The cottage was perfectly set in a rustic area but with enough amenities to keep the family as comfortable as they’d be at home. Last spring, while opening the cottage for the season, it was discovered the central air conditioning wasn’t working and a hole was found in a bedroom wall.

The responsible parties were also soon discovered: a family of raccoons had moved in!

The Loss

Six raccoons had chewed three holes on the exterior wall of the house and made their own home inside the walls. They destroyed spray foam insulation, wires, and the A/C unit. This damage, plus the bedroom wall hole and the other hole they discovered in the family room, was going to be expensive.

The Mishaps called in an animal expert who was able to trap all of the raccoons and relocate them. When the exterminator first came in, they only detected five raccoons. After using thermal imaging, they found a sixth hiding out and they were able to catch that one as well. Hiring a professional was well worth the money to avoid having an extra raccoon hanging around.

The Investigation

Yet again, Larry was glad to have his insurance agent on speed dial. This loss was clearly going to be covered under his homeowner’s insurance policy, or so he thought. A quick conversation with Annabelle, his agent, had him a little worried. She mentioned an animal exclusion in the policy and was going to have to review it for exact language.

Larry and Cathy could barely stand the wait, but Annabelle was quick. The policy exclusion, not at all unusual in homeowner’s policies read, “Loss by animals. We do not cover any loss from bats, birds, insects, rodents, or mollusks.” Larry was fit to be tied. Cathy was furious as well. Annabelle was calm and collected because, as she explained, a raccoon, is a mammal. There was no exclusion for damage caused by a mammal. Annabelle saved the day!

The Outcome

The knowledgeable and experienced agent, with the support of a strong claims advocacy team, was able to not only get the claim submitted to the carrier quickly, but remediation was able to start promptly. The team that came in to patch the holes, fix the walls, and get the A/C running again was thorough and the cottage was ready for the season with almost no time lost.

The Lesson

Homeowners have enough on their plates without knowing everything in their insurance policy. While many may know about exclusions for damage caused by birds or rodents, they may not be familiar with something specific like a policy not having an exclusion for a mammal. It’s easy to jump to a conclusion and not make the call to the insurance agent, especially when the case seems pretty open and shut. However, making the call and then allowing the agent and their claims team time to do necessary research can mean the difference between getting home damage covered or not.

Larry and Cathy have always been grateful to Annabelle for getting them out of the jams they seem to find themselves in and, this time around, they were especially grateful she knew so much about raccoons!

Claims Chronicles of the Mishaps is a fictional series based on actual claims. The Mishaps are an imaginary family and any resemblance to any person is purely coincidental. Claim details and circumstances have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. All insurance policies are different and each separate policy will dictate the coverage in each unique scenario. Nothing in this post is meant to suggest a guarantee of coverage.