Bedbugs, peacocks add to uptick in U.S. animal insurance claims

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2017 12:09 AM

By Suzanne Barlyn

(Reuters) - Bedbugs in hotel rooms and aggressive peacocks are some of the creatures behind an uptick in animal-related insurance claims filed by U.S. businesses, according to a study published on Thursday by insurer Allianz SE.

U.S. claims involving bedbugs increased 50 percent between 2014 and 2015, from 66 to 99, according to Allianz. The insurer has already counted 70 bedbug claims through September 2016, heading for a total that could surpass the previous year's, said Larry Crotser, the chief claims officer for the insurer's Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty unit.

The findings were included in a global report by the Allianz unit, which analyzed more than 100,000 corporate liability claims from roughly 100 countries paid by Allianz and other insurers between 2011 and 2016, totaling $9.3 billion. The claims involved everything from aviation to cyber security.

The analysis included nearly 1,880 U.S. animal-related business liability claims, representing about 2 percent of all commercial claims in the study.

Animal claims increased 28 percent between 2011 and 2015, from 287 to 365, according to Allianz. The average animal-related liability claim is about $10,400, with all animal claims totaling nearly $20 million.

Bedbugs accounted for 21 percent of U.S. business liability claims. Some claims, however, were peculiar, such as a hotel guest whose room was invaded by a flying squirrel and another whose hearing aid and slippers were destroyed by a rodent. Two claims involved people who were attacked by aggressive peacocks, according to the study.

Bedbugs, found on every continent except Antarctica, have been biting people for thousands of years. Widespread insecticide use in homes after World War Two eliminated them from many regions, but bedbugs developed pesticide resistance and rebounded, thriving in heated homes and hitching rides in luggage in international travel.

Hotel companies typically file insurance claims to cover costs of reimbursing guests who encountered bedbugs during their stays and inadvertently brought the insects home in their suitcases, causing infestations, Crotser said.

Those guests then look to the hotel company to pay for fumigating their homes. Commercial bedbug claims averaged $5,660, an Allianz spokeswoman said.

Deer incidents, such as collisions with farm vehicles, were the most common involving animals, accounting for 58 percent of U.S. animal-related liability claims insurers received.

Other business claims involved damage from dogs, roaming cattle, horses, cats, rodents, snakes and sheep.

(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Leslie Adler)