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Will a Homeowners Policy Cover a Rug Damaged by Silverfish?

Silverfish ate holes in my client’s Oriental floor rugs. Will their named peril homeowners policy cover the damage?
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Q: Silverfish ate holes in my client's Oriental floor rugs. Will their named peril homeowners policy cover the damage?

Response 1: Only if damage by insects and vermin is a named peril. There might be coverage under an inland marine coverage form, but only if it was a scheduled item. 

Most important of all, the claim should be submitted to the carrier so that it is appropriately evaluated or denied. It is not your place as an agent to deny coverage, and it increases your errors & omissions exposure. Tell your customer that it is unlikely that the policy will cover it, but that you will submit it to the carrier so that they can properly evaluate the claim. That demonstrates that you are doing everything you can for them.

Response 2: Contents are covered only on a named peril basis. Insect damage would only be covered if it is a named peril. Even if they had purchased an open peril form, there is normally an exclusion for insects. Further, since the damage caused by the silverfish would have happened over time, even the named peril policy may not cover the loss. Your only hope would have been an open peril inland marine form that doesn't have an insect damage exclusion.

Response 3: I suspect most adjusters would consider silverfish to be insects, so that rules out coverage from most main line insurance companies. I'm not sure about the forms used by insurers for high-net worth individuals but check if they have a similar exclusion. Barring that, most policies will exclude this loss. Is it possible to buy coverage? Of course, for a price. One option might have been a valuable articles floater policy. 

Response 4: Turn the claim in and let the carrier respond. If these are area rugs and contents, I see no named peril for this. If these are wall-to-wall carpets and part of the building, there is an insect exclusion.

Response 5: Since this situation has been reported to you, you should file it with the carrier. If it is not covered, then the carrier will deny it. Do not get your insured's hopes up or adjust the claim negatively with them. The handling of losses is the carrier's responsibility and you trying to determine coverage is not a good use of your time and can have negative consequences.

This question was originally submitted by an agent through the Big “I" Virtual University's (VU) Ask an Expert Service, with responses curated from multiple VU faculty members. Answers to other coverage questions are available on the VU website. If you need help accessing the website, request login information.