1. Clearwater

After an alligator broke into Clearwater woman's home, insurance won't cover damages

An 11-foot alligator is seen the a Clearwater home in this handout photo from the Clearwater Police Department on May 31. A woman delivering the Tampa Bay Times called police after hearing glass breaking. The gator broke through some low kitchen windows about 4 a.m. Friday at the single-family home on Eagles Landing Circle, southwest of McMullen Booth and Curlew Roads. (Courtesy of Clearwater Police)
Published Jul. 18

An elderly Clearwater woman's insurance covers natural disasters — but it doesn't cover gators.

Mary Wischusen, 77, found that out when she attempted to make a claim after her window was smashed by a visiting alligator.

It was denied this week.

The insurance company told Wischuen that damages associated with wildlife are not covered by her policy. That's pretty much standard for most insurance companies in Florida.

Aggressive, 11-foot alligator busts through window of Clearwater home

First an alligator came crashing through her window. Now what?

Authorities believe the alligator saw its reflection in the window in May during mating season and rushed over, apparently finding itself rather attracted to itself.

But instead of snagging a mate, the large gator ended up in the woman's kitchen and began thrashing about, breaking wine bottles and damaging her walls. At 11 feet long, it was almost the entire length of her kitchen counter.

"He just wanted a good time. ... I was stunned but happy no one was hurt," Wischuen told the Miami Herald.

She also tried going through her condo association's policy, but that doesn't cover windows, she said, which is why she turned to her Florida Peninsula Insurance.

While her policy states that reptiles are not covered, Wischusen said it does cover acts of nature — and considered this incident to be just that.

"Gators never go into houses," she said. "This is the exception that should be made."

Her insurance company disagrees.

Exterior damage claims are typically handled by the association's policy, according to a spokesman for Florida Peninsula Insurance. Wischusen's policy with Florida Peninsula was also clear as to what it did and did not cover, the spokesman said.

Wischusen said she doesn't know how much it will cost to fix the window, but she does know she won't be able to afford it with her fixed income. If the insurance company or the condo association won't pay up, she doesn't know what she'll do, but is hoping someone will be able to help her.

For now, the giant window is still boarded up with plywood.

A spokesman for Sentry Management Inc., the Eagles Landing Condo Association's property management company, said he could not immediately provide detailed information because different properties can have different policies.

The spokesman said while there are "commonalities" in every policy, "each community has a different set of rules and standards in place based on what that community needs."


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