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Ask the Home Insurance Expert

A pigeon got into my house through the chimney and caused extensive damage. Does my home insurance cover this?

Yes, your home insurance should provide coverage because, technically, the pigeon vandalized your home. Most standard home insurance policies cover vandalism, even if the intruder who ruffled your nest was a bird (or any other critter, for that matter).

Understanding what your home insurance covers and doesn't cover is tricky, especially considering the limitless number of weird things that can happen. When you bought your home insurance policy, you probably never imagined making a claim for damage by a pigeon.

Read your home insurance policy to understand your coverage and exclusions in general, and then call your insurance agent or insurer when in doubt. There's no way a policy can describe every possible occurrence, so it's a matter of determining under which category a loss belongs.

For instance, what if an antigovernment militia invaded your neighborhood and destroyed your home? You'd be covered, as long as the U.S. government determined it was not be an act of war -- such acts of terrorism are covered, but not acts of war.

What if a plane crashed into your home? You'd be covered because such an instance would count as damage from objects falling from the sky.

What if your house fell off a cliff? Sounds implausible, but this does happen when homes are built on unstable hills. Unfortunately for the owners of such homes, standard home insurance policies do not cover the wreckage when a house slips off a hill because of a landslide or any other reason. Earthquake insurance, which must be purchased in addition to standard home insurance, would provide coverage, but only if seismic movement caused the house to slip.

For more, see home insurance exclusions: what your policy won't cover.

Last updated: Mar. 4, 2011
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