Insurance coverage for a haunted home? There’s a ghost of a chance
Hearing things go bump in the night around your house? If you’re playing host to celestial squatters from the past or unearthly travelers from the “otherworld,” your earthly possessions could be broken or destroyed.
“I’ve seen lots of stuff thrown from shelves, furniture scratched or torn, jewelry broken or unstrung and clothing ruined. One client’s home looked like a tornado had hit,” says Ally Mead, a psychic who owns an intuitive healing business offering astrology, tarot, clairvoyance, channeled readings and energy work. “Many times, I’ve also seen walls damaged. In one case, there were dents in the wall that looked like they’d been put there by a large mallet or hammer, but the client was an elderly woman who probably couldn’t have lifted such a tool.”
|Unlike a fire or a tornado, a ghost doesn’t qualify as a “peril” under a standard home insurance policy.|
So what’s a homeowner to do when a ghost causes wreaks havoc? Chances are, your home insurance policy won’t help you recover from damage caused by your ghost guests.
Ghosts aren’t insurance ‘perils’
Marcus Head, president of Head South Assure Group, an independent insurance agency in Kennesaw, Ga., says standard home insurance policies cover named perils such as wind, fire and theft. Ghosts aren’t among those perils, though. That means you won’t be reimbursed for an expensive vase that’s shattered by a visitor from beyond.
“The nature of home insurance is that it covers named perils that are sudden and catastrophic in nature,” Head says.
A ghostly encounter may be sudden or catastrophic, but in the eyes of your insurance company, it doesn’t qualify for payment of a claim. Linda Peterson, who lives in the Chicago area, found that out firsthand.
“Living in a house that’s over 150 years old almost guarantees you’re going to have spirits passing through, so I was prepared for the noises, creaking of old wood floors and so on,” Peterson says. “I wasn’t prepared for my insurance company to deny the claim for a piece of art that mysteriously fell off the wall and broke moments before my mother passed away.”
All-risk coverage may help
If you do experience paranormal-related damage or are worried that your spirited visitors could become clumsy, Head recommends adding an endorsement for “special personal property.” This “all risk” coverage goes beyond named perils, so it covers more than a traditional policy would — including ghosts and goblins. Typically, all-risk coverage costs 10 percent to 25 percent more than standard home insurance coverage.
Even if your insurance does cover the damages, you might not want to bother filing a claim anyway.
“Most of my experience with paranormal activities is that it becomes a pesky annoyance,” Head says, “and typical damages fall below our customer’s deductible.”
By the way, if you want to exorcise ghosts in your home, insurance won’t cover the cost. That’s considered a “repair and maintenance” item that is excluded from typical home insurance policies, according to Head.
Haunted just for Halloween
While a haunted residence normally isn’t covered by home insurance, a for-profit or nonprofit haunted house generally is required to carry liability and property insurance. Liability insurance protects the haunted house and its visitors in case of injury, while property insurance protects the operator against such things as fire and theft.
Ben Armstrong, a spokesman for America Haunts, which operates nearly 30 haunted houses and other Halloween attractions across the country, says: “Injuries to haunted house guests and actors are, in general, extremely rare, as is damage to property.” That’s thanks, in part, to safety requirements imposed by insurers, fire marshals and code-enforcement officials, Armstrong says.
“Many haunted houses, especially large established ones, have fire fighters, EMTs and police officers on staff every night in addition to operations staff to insure that things run smoothly and careful crisis management planning is in place,” Armstrong says.