A slick mess: Snails and home insurance
It appears that South Florida residents have more than soggy days to dread during the annual rainy season: The giant African land snail, which can grow as big as a rat and gnaw through stucco and plaster, is infesting the region.
The mondo-mollusks emerge from their underground hibernation at the start of the state's rainy season, with more than 1,000 being caught each week in the Miami-Dade area, says Denise Feiber, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture. "It becomes a slick mess."
"A typical snail can produce about 1,200 eggs a year and the creatures are a particular pest in homes because of their fondness for stucco, devoured for the calcium content they need for their shells, " Feiber told Reuters.
I interviewed Feiber and insurance experts myself last year when I first heard of the super-sized snails invading Miami and snacking on stucco, which could pose a pricey problem for homeowners under attack from the interlopers. (See: "Are stucco-eating snails covered by home insurance?")
If you are unfortunate enough to have giant snails munching on your stucco or plaster, the damage would not be covered under a typical home insurance policy, says Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute.
Willem Rijksen, vice president of public affairs for the American Insurance Association, agrees. "Pest damage, which includes African snails, is not covered under a typical homeowner policy," he says.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.