Insurance claim denied after destructive 11-feet gator break-in

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — A Clearwater woman became something of a celebrity when a giant alligator broke into her home back in May.

But now, she says she’s getting anything but the A-list treatment from her insurance company as she tries to claim the damages the gator left behind.

At the end of May, Mary Wischhusen woke up in the middle of the night to find an aggressive, 11-foot-long gator had broken into her Eagles Landing home. The creature smashed windows, wine bottles, and glass furniture, and left holes in her walls.

The giant window toward the front of her home is still boarded up with plywood.

“There’s no one willing to help me fix the problem, and I don’t have the money to fix the problem,” Wischhusen said.

Wischhusen filed a claim under her homeowners insurance for the window and wall damage, only to have Florida Peninsula reject the claim about a month later.

“Because it was a gator that broke it, and they don’t cover gators,” she explained. “If it was wind, they would have fixed it. If it was anything but a gator, they would have fixed it.”

8 On Your Side looked into the matter and found that some homeowners insurance policies will cover damage caused by wild animals. However, Wischhusen’s explicitly states damage from rodents, reptiles, and other animals is not covered.

We reached out to Florida Peninsula to find out if gator damage would or could ever be covered under one of its policies.

Don Silver, a publicist for Florida Peninsula told us that because the claim is on a condo, that most structural and exterior damage claims are typically handled by the association’s policy and that applies in Wischhusen’s case.

Silver added that the denial was appropriate, based on review of Wischhusen’s policy and claim.

“Insurance is a very complex subject to cover with companies being bound by both statute and the terms and conditions of each policy,” Silver said.

8 On Your Side has not been able to make contact with the Eagles Landing HOA to determine why it won’t cover the damage.

Wischhusen said the damage was quoted at thousands of dollars which she is currently on the hook for, meaning this gator break-in could also break the bank.



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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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