I just saw a forum post of a poor guy who’s tank had just exploded and having seen the mess got me thinking. Does my own house insurance cover this kind of event?
Aquarium insurance policies cover damages caused by a catastrophic aquarium failure, leaks, and overflows, but most will not cover the loss of livestock. Policies can start at a reasonable price and cover the cost of repairs to your property or others living below you if the worst were to happen.
This is a topic that appears to be a great area of confusion and I don’t see it getting any clearer! If you have an accident with your aquarium, big or small, what is covered? What is not? Can you get sued? This article will help point you in the right directions for what you need to know when looking for coverage.
As an aquarium owner, I did a lot of research into this to try and find out the simple answers to being insured and found out there are no such things as simple answers when it comes to insurance! Read on to learn about what I found and what we need to know…
Do You Own Your Home Or Do You Rent?
Before you even look at insurance the main thing you need to be certain of is ‘are you allowed’ to have an aquarium in your rental property? Do you even know if you are allowed an aquarium? These are questions you need to find answers for either from your written ‘Rental Agreement’ or in writing from the property owner.
You always need to get any clarification in writing and have it signed and dated to help protect yourself if there was ever an incident! Not being allowed an aquarium, then not having insurance is a sure-fire way to being sued!
OK, so you are allowed to keep an aquarium and that’s all good, but now what happens if your 100 gallon aquarium bursts 5 minutes after you have left for work and your neighbor below you now has water pouring through their ceiling! Two Words – Renter’s Insurance.
As a renter, you should have this anyway to protect you and your landlord, but what you need to look for when buying a new policy is how your aquarium could affect that policy.
Most policies may cover the cost of water damage from a leak or bursting or if a fire occurs from a faulty piece of aquarium equipment. You may also be covered if your landlord decides to sue you for damages and loss of revenue etc.
What you will most likely not be covered for is the cost to replace your aquarium, equipment, and livestock.
Some insurance companies may advise you to take out an additional ‘Liability Policy’ to cover your aquarium, which is usually only a few dollars more each month.
I use the word ‘MAY’ a lot because from my research talking to insurance companies, it varies from company to company, state to state, country to country. You will need to personally talk to a LOCAL agent in your area and ask them exactly when you are covered for.
Most Rental Insurance policies I called for were in the $15-30 per month range for an average 1000 sqft apartment.
As a homeowner, you should have your general home and contents insured. Most policies may include damage caused by an incident involving your aquarium and the cost of cleanup and repairs to not only your home but anyone else affected too.
Just like the renter’s insurance, the question of ‘Aquariums’ when asked to an agent can return a plethora of answers, even from the same company. Aquariums are not a usual item that gets questioned but when an incident occurs, the clean-up costs are always significant.
You will need to check your policy to see exactly what it says on there and if you need to clarify in writing, I advise you to go to a local office and speak directly with an agent. The call center staff are a lot less experienced in dealing with these matters and have very little power when it comes to figuring out what you need.
Trust me I called a lot of them! “Let me check with my supervisor” was a common reply I received!
What To Check For On A Policy
The policy wording is the gray area that insurance companies love to tangle us up in. They will word your policy in a language that most of us will never understand and that is how they can then use those words to interpret the situation as THEY wish.
Here are a few things you may see mentioned:
Flood Damage – This is when water comes up from below the home. Not from your aquarium incident.
Sump Failure – This is referring to your groundwater sump in your home, not the sump under your aquarium.
Hot Tubs and Water Beds – Your policy may or may not class your aquarium as the same as these in-home water storage devices.
Appliances – If your dishwasher or washing machine leaks, is this the same as your aquarium leaking?
Look for any wording specific to an aquarium and have your local agent clarify in writing EXACTLY what that statement means.
Have them point out what damage is covered if you have a leak and what is not covered.
Understanding your policy is key to knowing what to prepare for and hopefully prevent a disaster. It is also good to understand if you need to shop around for a new insurance company to cover your needs.
Aquarium Insurance – What Are You Covered For And What You Are Not Covered For?
This is by no means an exact statement of what is covered but a generalization of what I have found during my research. Your personal policy will dictate your coverage. This is just a general guide.
- If your aquarium leaks or bursts you may be covered for the damage, cleanup and repairs to your residence and anyone else affected.
- If your aquarium catches fire you are covered
- If someone breaks into your residence and steals your equipment or aquarium you are covered
- If someone breaks into your residence and smashes your aquarium you are covered
- If you forgot to turn off making water and you flood, you may be covered
- If your landlord sues you for negligence you may be covered
- If your aquarium leaks, you are not covered for replacement of your aquarium or livestock
- If your policy specifically states ‘Any damage caused by pets or aquarium’ you may not be covered
- Loss of power to your residence is not covered
- Hurricanes or floods may not cover your losses
Aquarium Insurance – Things To Be Aware Of
- If you move across state lines your coverage may be affected. Each state can have it’s own rules on your policy, even within the same company.
- Change residence = check your policy with a local agent!
- Always get clarification and in writing, NEVER ASSUME!
- Make sure there is not an aquarium size limit on your Insurance Policy or Rental Agreement
- Keep a total of all your equipment replacement costs and ensure your policy coverage is enough.
- I have seen repair and replacement bills from $15,000 to $100,000!
- Keep up to date on this total as the years go by (It will scare you how much gear you have!!)
- Claims are all about the wording. But blatant lying will get you in trouble.
Tips For Finding Better Aquarium Insurance Coverage Policies
- Ask if that agent has dealt with an aquarium incident before. Maybe try and speak to an agent who has
- Ask around your social circles to see if anyone knows an Insurance Claim Adjuster. They are the ones who come to inspect the damage and have the final say on your payout. They may have some good advice. The Agents just try and sell you their products
- If you are unable to get coverage with your current insurance company then its time to look around for a new one
- Ask around your forums for the advice of any aquarium owner that is local to you and who they use
- You may be able to purchase an extra ‘Add-On’ to your policy to cover just your aquarium
- Look at ‘Bundling’ your policy with your existing insurance policies, eg car insurance, for extra discounts
My recommendation to you is to go and visit one of the good insurance agents or brokers near to you and talk to them face to face about exactly what you have and what can you get covered for. Shop around and see which companies can give you what.
The cheapest price may not be the best coverage! A $1000 deductible to someone on a low wage is not going to get you back into having another tank if you have an incident!
ALWAYS fully understand what you are covered for and what you are not covered for. Being negligent and blatantly trying to defraud an insurance company could end you up in a lot more trouble than just a wet floor!
Read around the forums on aquarists who have had accidents and try and learn from their mistakes and tips in case you are ever faced with a similar situation!
Insurance may seem like a hindrance or an ‘Extra Cost’ but to not have it and then face months of sleepless nights because you are being sued is not worth the cost of a pizza once a month!
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