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Weird — and gross — home damages: Are you covered?

Kathryn Hawkins

weird and gross home insurance claimsYou may already be aware of some exclusions in your home insurance policy. For instance, standard homeowners policies won’t cover damage from floods or earthquakes.

But what if a meteorite hits your house? Or, what if a corpse in the adjacent apartment leaks bodily fluids and causes damage to your home? Such incidents may not be common, but they do happen — and if your insurance policy won’t protect you, you could be stuck cleaning up the mess, both physically and financially.

Weird claims your policy may cover

1. Falling space rocks.

Anything that falls on top of your home and causes damage is likely covered under a standard homeowners policy. So if a meteorite tumbles through your roof, you should be covered.

However, if it’s a larger meteor that falls to earth in a nearby town and the impact is so intense your windows shatter, chances are you’d need to pay for the repairs yourself.

2. Blue ice.

“Blue ice” may sound pretty, but it’s anything but. The term refers to falling sewage from an aircraft, which freezes as it drops to earth. Typically, the sewage disintegrates into pieces too small to cause any impact. But occasionally, a solid block will hit a structure and could cause damage. Two homeowners in Long Island allege that blue ice fell through their homes’ roofs in 2012, destroying the shingles.

Because blue ice is considered a “falling object,” it should be covered under your homeowner’s policy. If you know or suspect that your property has been damaged by blue ice, you should first file a report with your local Flight Standards District Office before contacting your insurance company.

3. A herd of wildebeests.

If a local re-enactment of “The Lion King”goes awry and a herd of wildebeests flattens your home, you’re in luck. Such an event is likely covered by your homeowners policy, as most policies cover damage by wild animals. This also includes more likely scenarios, such as damage from raccoons, squirrels and chipmunks. If you happen to be the proud owner of the wildebeests, though, you’ve brought it on yourself — and you’ll be paying for the damage on your own.

Weird things your policy probably won’t cover.

While home insurance policies cover many out-of-the-ordinary scenarios, there are some situations in which you might be out of luck, whether due to exclusions in the policy or because you didn’t perform due diligence before purchasing your policy.

1. Dead bird damage.

In a February 2012 incident in El Paso, Texas, a couple’s furnace broke, leading them to inspect their attic. There, they found a nasty surprise: Hundreds of dead birds had decayed and led to an infestation of mites, ticks and fleas. The family filed an insurance claim to clean the home and get rid of the damage, but it was denied. According to a local news report, the damage was not covered because it should have been identified in a home inspection, prior to the couple’s purchase of the home.

When purchasing a home, pay for a professional home inspection that includes your prospective home’s attic and other crawl spaces. If you make a claim for damage that your insurer says should’ve been evident in an inspection, your insurer may not accept responsibility.

2. Bat guano.

In 2007, a Wisconsin couple discovered their vacation home had been rendered uninhabitable by a colony of bats. Bat guano urine and excrement) had built up in a layer between the siding and walls, causing a disgusting stench. Upon the advice of a contractor who said the guano could not be fully cleaned from the home, they had the home torn down and rebuilt, and then sent their insurance company a claim for the rebuilding costs.

When the insurers refused to pay the claim totaling more than $300,000), the homeowners sued the company for compensation for the rebuilding costs. However, the court ultimately found in favor of the insurance company, agreeing the bat guano could be considered “pollution,” which is a listed exclusion to the policy.

3. Exploding corpses.

In one of the most revolting home insurance scenarios you’ll hopefully never have to face, your home insurance may not provide coverage for clean-up efforts if the death of a neighbor causes damage to your condominium.

In a 2009 case in Florida, a woman died in her condo, but her body wasn’t discovered for weeks when neighbors began complaining about the smell. By that point, her body was in an advanced state of decomposition, and it had leaked bodily fluids into the walls of the adjacent condo.

The dead woman’s neighbor filed a claim with her homeowner’s insurance company to cover the cost of cleaning and repairing the damage, but the insurer denied the claim. When the neighbor took the case to court, she claimed the damage should be covered under the included peril “explosion.” However, the court found that the scenario didn’t meet the definition of an explosion.

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