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From skunks, to opossums, to raccoons, to squirrels, the animals like to come inside. While they may be cute on the nature channel or at the zoo, when a homeowner finds a skunk in a crawl space or a raccoon in the attic the response is often dismay followed by “How do I get it out of there?” Then the insurance policy comes into play. Is there coverage for the damage caused by the animal? Was the animal a rodent or a vermin, what’s the difference, and why does it matter?

For damage to Coverage A and B, the HO 00 03 excludes birds, vermin, rodents, insects, or animals owned or kept by an insured. So the damaged door that Fluffy has been scratching on for the past few years is not covered. That’s the easy part. So are birds and insects; they’re readily identifiable and aren’t usually confused with mammals. Then we get to the tricky part, rodents and vermin. Well, what exactly is a rodent, and how is it different from vermin? Aren’t they the same and if not, how do you tell the difference? The policy doesn’t define either term, so we’re left to our own devices to sort out the wild things.

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