Say the word pet and most people think dog, cat, hamster, gerbil, fish, or bird. Some will think of turtles, lizards, or sugar gliders. In Texas, we may even think in terms of horses. Other people think in terms of more exotic animals such as:
- Pythons or boa constrictors
- Wolf/dog hybrids
- Cat hybrids
- Ocelots, cheetahs, leopards, or even tigers
- Chimpanzees and monkey varieties
If you’re thinking of getting an exotic pet you’ll want to find out how that impacts your home or renters insurance.
Most insurers will view an animal as being exotic if it:
- Requires a permit to buy the pet
- Modifications are needed for the home or yard to contain the pet whether fully grown or not
- Is a hybrid of a domesticated animal and a non-domesticated animal (wolf & cat hybrids)
- Is found naturally in the wild
In these cases:
- Most insurers will not write the policy if an exotic animal is present
- Should one be acquired after a policy is written most insurers will not pay for any liability claims related to the pet and then cancel or not renew the policy
Animals that are considered of the livestock variety are not viewed as exotic pets. Many insurers find these animals as being acceptable. Animals in this category include alpacas, llamas, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, cows, and emus.
Several years ago, a client called me to discuss a pet he was thinking of getting. It was a Savannah cat which is a hybrid between a domesticate cat and a Serval, a medium-sized large-eared wild African cat. He wanted to determine if a Savannah cat would be covered under the terms of his home policy. After a long conversation with an underwriter and a claims adjuster manager, the answer to covering the Savannah cat was no. The pet was classified as an exotic, which was outside the scope of the policy. Quite frankly, they didn’t want to take on that level of risk. My client was fine with the answer and ended up getting a house cat.
What’s the most unusual pet you had? Share your pet stories or questions with us in the comments section or on our Google + or Facebook pages. We’ll all learn from each other.