How to recognize and prevent raccoon damage

Last updated: January 1

A standard homeowners insurance policy may help cover repairs if raccoons damage or destroy the roof, attic or other areas of the home's structure. However, homeowners are typically responsible for repairing or replacing personal items — such as clothing, electronics and furniture — that are damaged by raccoons.

Always read your homeowners insurance policy or check with your insurer to see what your policy specifically covers.

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Signs of raccoons in your home

According to the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology (WFCB) at UC Davis, common signs that raccoons might be on your property include noises on the roof or in the attic or chimney. If you notice droppings, tracks or signs of feeding in your home, it's likely that you have raccoons. Because they're nocturnal, you'll typically see them out at night, especially around food sources, like the garden. WFCB notes that seeing a family of raccoons occasionally is generally not something to worry about.

Raccoons and roof damage

Roof damage is often the result of raccoons searching for a place to nest. The WFCB reports that female raccoons are known to tear off roof shingles and ventilators to gain access to the attic for a nesting site. Inside, they might also make space for their nesting by tearing out insulation.

How to help keep raccoons away

Humane Wildlife Removal (HWR) recommends the following tips to help safely keep raccoons at bay.

Restrict access to food sources

Food sources are among the biggest draws for raccoons, especially garbage bins stored outside. Keep trash cans and compost bins securely fastened. Raccoon repellents can be applied to prevent them from gnawing through the lids. Other food sources to be mindful of are garden beds, fruit trees, pet food and bird feeders.

Install motion-activated lights

Install motion-activated floodlights near garden beds or fruit trees that are difficult to block off. These lights are typically effective enough to help keep critters away.

Use sprinklers

Motion-activated water sprinklers can spray critters attempting to sneak into the yard. They don't cause harm and are effective at discouraging raccoons from coming back.

Patch up your place

Raccoons tend to be attracted to easy and obvious points of entry, according to HWR. Check the house for any noticeable holes or gaps that they might be able to rip through. Secure chimneys with steel caps and consider wire mesh screens for vents.

HWR recommends calling on a professional removal service in certain situations, such as if racoons have set up a den in the home or a racoon is trapped or injured. A professional can help remove them without causing harm to the animals or the home.

The Insurance Information Institute also advises policyholders call their insurance company immediately about any structural damage caused by critters, like raccoons, or any other covered hazard. An adjuster can evaluate damage and help you with next steps to getting your home repaired.