You buy homeowner's insurance to cover against hazards, or "perils," as the industry often calls them. But one woman says she believes she found one peril that may not be covered: a wild deer running out of control inside your home, trashing everything in sight.
Susan Mauricio said she was looking out the back window of her home when she saw a deer in her yard. She grabbed her cell phone and started recording out of curiosity, thinking it would soon dart out of her yard.
But a moment later, Mauricio said, "She gets startled and then charges the window."
Her phone video shows the deer, apparently having seen Mauricio or seen its own reflection, running directly at the big plate-glass window.
"I ran for my life. I ran for the closest door," Mauricio said.
Within seconds, the deer burst inside. You can hear the window smashing on her phone recording, but the video only shows the carpeting as Mauricio headed out through the front door. She then stopped recording to call the Delhi Township Police Department, who opened all her doors and coaxed the deer out.
Damage done, insurance balks
The deer darted away and has not been seen since, but the damage was done. It tore up her living room couch, carpeting, draperies and the interior of two bedrooms.
"The deer even put a hole into the ceiling," Mauricio said.
The destruction and deer blood all over the house was traumatic. But when she called Allstate, she discovered she wasn't completely covered to repair the damage.
"They told me it was not one of the 16 perils they cover," Mauricio said. "If it had been a car that came through my window, they told me that would have been covered. But not a deer."
Allstate advertises that it covers mayhem, even using an actor who represents mayhem who causes all sorts of damage to homes and cars. Apparently, that definition of mayhem does not include deer damage to possessions: it is not listed among Allstate's covered perils like fire, theft, storm damage and vandalism.
Mauricio said Allstate agreed to replace the window and pay for damage to the walls and ceiling, but they did not cover the $3,000 in contents destroyed by the out-of-control deer.
"I was very disappointed," she said.
We contacted Allstate, where a spokesman said they will re-examine Mauricio's claim. We will update this report when we receive a final statement.
What you can do
The money-saving site NerdWallet says insurance companies often deny homeowner claims, or as in this case, only agree to a partial payment. It says if your claim is ever denied:
- Write a letter of appeal.
- Ask for an in-home meeting with an adjuster.
- Complain to the state insurance department.
- Request mediation in front of an independent insurance mediation board.
In the meantime, you may want to check to see if the contents of your home are really covered against unexpected hazards. Tim Wahl of Gallaher Insurance says you can purchase what is known as Special Form Personal Property Coverage for around $60 a year, that will cover everything inside in the event of damage.
Mauricio is wondering how she'll afford to replace all that she lost, having no idea that a deer running through your home was not the type of mayhem that would have full coverage.
"It was very disheartening," she said.
As always, don't waste your money.
This story was originally published by WCPO's John Matarese.
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