Answering the homeowner’s questions about dealing with property damage caused by pets
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto provides water damage restoration and fire damage restoration services to homes in the Cupertino, CA, area.
SERVPRO® of Palo Alto provides fire and water damage restoration for property damage to homes in the Palo Alto area, including property damage caused by pets in the house. Pets, especially dogs, are popular in Palo Alto and the surrounding Bay area. A recent estimate in 2018 suggested that there were between 120,000 and 150,000 dogs in San Francisco. Immediately, the question arises: “What if my pet causes a fire damage or water damage disaster in my home?” Before answering the question, take a look at how pets of all kinds can cause a property damage disaster in a home or apartment. An awareness of how vulnerable a structure is when the dog (or cat) is home alone will make the homeowner think twice about leaving a pet unsupervised, even if the pet owner is at home.
Dogs and cats, the most popular domestic pets, can be curious. Dogs can cause the most damage, especially if the dog is large. Here are some innovative ways the family pet can cause havoc in the home or property by just being what they are: the family pet.
- Pets can cause a fire in the kitchen by causing items cooking on the stove to spill and ignite on the burners. A dog’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than a human’s. If the kitchen is outside and a grill is in use, do not be surprised to find a host of dogs (or cats) lurking around for a handout from the chef or for a full meal when the chef steps inside for just a moment. If a fire breaks out and damages the deck, siding, and awning, will insurance pay for damages?
- Pets can chew through electrical cords, which can cause an electrical fire and deliver a shock to the dog, cat, ferret, or pet rat. Both tame and wild, mice and rats love to chew electrical wires. Skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, and other critters that make their way into the attic will chew on just about anything, including electrical wiring, which can result in an electrical fire.
- Pets can pull over light fixtures, the television or computer screen, and Christmas decorations, including Christmas lights.
- Pets can chew through plumbing, such as toilet tank supply lines and faucet supply lines.
- Make sure the water cooler is stable and securely attached to the wall with braces. A large dog can easily topple a free-standing water cooler. Twenty to thirty gallons of water can cover many square feet in the kitchen, den, and laundry room.
- Beware of leaving lighted candles in reach of pets (and children) to prevent a curious pet from overturning the burning candle and causing a fire.
- The irrigation and landscape lighting systems are not safe when the family dog is bored, hungry, thirsty, frightened by the sprinklers, or irritated when the lighting system begins to turn on at sunset.
Pets will lick, sniff, chew, push, pull, shake, shred, jostle, topple, or damage all manner of items, most likely when their owners are away from home.
Pet-caused disasters are often complex disaster scenes
If a dog or other pet causes a fire damage disaster, severe smoke damage will also likely occur. If the residence or apartment is outfitted with a fire sprinkler system, the water damage may be throughout the entire structure. If the fire department responds and rolls out the hoses, each hose can spray several hundred gallons of water per minute into the burning structure. Flowing at just over 70 mph, the force of the blast of water can cause severe damage to a home or business.
Does insurance coverage include property damage caused by pets?
These guidelines are subject to the terms of an individual’s policy. For clarity, consult with an insurance agent.
- A typical homeowners policy does not cover damage in the home or the property caused by the owner’s pets. Under the policy, the homeowner’s pet is considered to be under the control of the homeowner, and responsibility for damages rests with the owner of the pet.
- If the policy owner’s pet damages someone else’s property, the policy may cover those damages. The other person may sue for damages.
Case study: Fish tank water damage disaster
A large fish tank provides a delightful distraction for patients waiting to be seen by a doctor, dentist, or other health care provider. Smaller versions can be found in many homes in Palo Alto and the Bay area. A tropical fish tank can cost thousands of dollars to build and populate with fish. What if something catastrophic happens, such as an earthquake that sends the aquarium crashing to the floor in a wave of water, broken glass, and flopping fish?
Insurance industry experts offer the following helpful guidelines: “Water damage is typically covered by homeowners insurance policies, as long as it wasn’t the result of your own negligence. Most standard policies list water damage as what’s called a covered peril. That means there’s a good chance your insurer would reimburse you for the damage caused by a broken fish tank. Under a standard policy, the tank itself is covered if it was destroyed by one of the covered perils listed in a homeowners policy, such as fire.”
When disaster strikes, turn to the team of IICRC-certified professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto for fire damage, smoke damage, and water damage cleanup and restoration. Crews arrive at the damaged property in about an hour, 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays. The rapid response and quick cleanup process help get life back to normal as soon as possible.
For more information about water damage restoration services in North Whisman, Mountain View, CA, and nearby areas, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email at office@SERVPROpaloalto.com.