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Question:

Birds have set up nests in the outdoor component of our client’s combine heater & hot water system causing both direct & resulting damage.

The policy exclusion states cover is excluded for damage to the insured property or part immediately affected directly caused by vermin or insects. Insurers have not covered the direct damage but are considering the resulting damage as this stage.

The policy does not define vermin.

Typically I would think of rats etc as vermin but in a dictionary search some definitions include birds. Is there any legal determination of what vermin actually is? or whether birds should not be included as vermin?

Appreciate any guidance on the insurance view of the scope of vermin.

Thanks

Crossley Gates replies:

I am not aware of any special insurance definition for 'vermin' so it will be interpreted based on its dictionary meaning. Dictionary.com uses this definition:

noxious, objectionable, or disgusting animals collectively, especially those of small size that appear commonly and are difficult to control, as flies, lice, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice, and rats.

I suggest birds do not come comfortably within that definition.

 



March 2022

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