Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Bat Removal?
After years of performing bat removal services, our customers ask, “Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Bat Removal?” many times. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover bat removal. Bat removal-bat proofing is the responsibility of the homeowner. The reason insurance companies will not cover the bat removal-bat proofing is because the infestation is a general maintenance issue (in the eyes of the all-mighty Insurance companies, anyway). Usually what the insurance company means by that is there is preexisting holes, gaps, or other areas the bats are using to get in. You, the homeowner, are responsible for remedying those minor maintenance issues.
However, everyone’s policy is different, so it is best to consult your insurance company. Most commonly, the homeowner’s insurance will cover the attic restoration or cleanup of the attic once you remove the bats. The attic restoration can end up costing much more than the bat proofing, depending on the extent of the damage. Again, this is just from our personal experience with this issue. Be sure to ask your insurance agent about your specific policy.
Adulting 101- Homeowner’s Insurance
Insurance can be a confusing subject because of the terminology and the amount of overwhelming information thrown at you in a short amount of time. Homeowners insurance is no exception to the mind-boggling issue of coverage. Which policy do you choose? What is all covered? What is the price? Which insurance company do you pick? Numerous companies offer homeowners insurance. There are general policies to choose from that have you covered against things like weather-related damage or fire.
Depending on the company, they may offer individual coverage insurance such as flood or earthquakes because general policies do not cover natural disasters like that. Unfortunately, bat removal is a disaster that is not covered under any general homeowner’s insurance policy. Nor is there individual insurance which you can purchase for it. We will get into the details why bat removal is not covered by homeowner’s insurance next.
Homeowner’s Insurance VS. Bat Removal
Why won’t homeowner’s insurance cover bat removal costs? Insurance companies see bat infestations as a “general maintenance issue.” Because bats can enter through dime-sized spaces that can form as a house settles, the insurance company will tell you to fix those issues yourself. What the insurance company doesn’t understand is how tedious that is! The problem with homeowners taking care of bat removal themselves is typically they do not know where or how to seal bat entry points properly. The worst thing a homeowner could do is trying to fix or seal up areas him/herself.
Do not seal the bats inside the home! Going out at night and sealing the areas you may see bats flying out is only going to lock the other bats inside the house. Locking the bats inside will only lead to them entering the living quarters or even worse the bats will die within the walls. In time those dead bats will start to smell, and that gets to be a more intricate bat removal project. Homeowners might not know where to look for bat entry points — for example, venting on the house that doesn’t have appropriate screens, damaged siding, or a crumbling chimney. Also, bad soffits and damaged shingles can provide access points for bats.
It’s best to hire professionals to ensure the sealing is done the first time correctly. Bat removal is not a very cheap service, but it is not the most expensive, either. Homeowners insurance may not cover the bat removal-bat proofing, but some do cover the cleanup costs after you remove the colony. We will talk about attic restoration, prices, and coverage next.
Homeowners Insurance VS Attic Restoration
Bats are troublesome little pests to remove. The bat colony will not leave on its own. Professionals must be called to get rid of the bats safely and adequately. Hiring professionals is the only way to ensure you remove the bats permanently. After those bats are kicked out, there is usually a big stinky mess left behind. The damage bats cause in an attic depends on the size of the colony.
Additionally, the amount of time the colony has been in the structure can make a big difference. The amount of guano can range from being scattered across the attic, to mounds of bat feces that have built up over time. Scattered guano can be cleaned up relatively quickly by professionals.
A large bat colony or well-established colony can cause such an immense amount of damage a full attic restoration will be needed. A full attic restoration consists of removal of soiled insulation, removing the guano, sanitizing the attic, and re-installing the customers choice of insulation. Attic Restoration is generally a much more expensive service than the bat removal-bat proofing service. Homeowners insurance covers the restoration because it is accidental physical damage, which is usually included in a homeowner’s policy. The worst thing about bat waste, besides the smell, is the diseases it can carry.
You should treat and dispose of bat guano the same way as you would hazardous waste. Do not try to clean bat waste yourself. It contains fungal spores that when inhaled can cause respiratory disease, histoplasmosis. Bat feces, or guano, looks very similar to mouse droppings. The best and grossest, way to distinguish the difference is to wear a mask and put on latex gloves, then crush some of the excrement between your fingers. Hold the sample in the light and look for reflective pieces.
The reflective material found in the bat guano is insect wings, which confirms bats. Mice do not eat flying insects. Therefore there will be no remnants left behind. Location of the feces is also a telltale sign. If the feces seems to be along the walls its most likely mice, bat guano can be scattered throughout the attic or in piles. Bat guano is dangerous enough that you should treat it as if you are disposing of hazardous waste. Masks and safety suits should be worn to prevent the inhalation of the fungal spores. If the extent of the damage in the attic is too great, a full restoration will be needed as we talked about above.
To simplify this all down, because insurance can be quite confusing: Homeowners insurance does NOT pay for bat removal-bat proofing services. Bat infestations are a general maintenance issue. You, the homeowner, are responsible for removing the bats. Remember, the only way to remove bats correctly is hiring professionals. Once you completely remove the bats, the homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of the attic restoration or cleanup of bat feces. The bats can cause a large amount of accidental physical damage to your home.
Most homeowner’s insurance general policies cover accidental physical damage done to a home. Everyone’s policy is different, so be sure to ask about your specific policy. If you are still unsure, it’s best to contact your insurance agent (policyholder) to discuss further.