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Monkey Business and Home Insurance

At some time in your life, you’ve probably wanted a pet monkey or known someone who wanted one. And why not? Monkeys are cute, funny, and smart. What’s not to love?

Many pet experts agree that initially, a pet monkey can be all those things. But sooner or later, they warn, usually around the time of sexual maturity, they can become jealous, destructive, and aggressive. That means in time, you, a family member, or a guest likely will get bitten.

Is owning a monkey illegal?

That depends on where you live. There are no federal restrictions, but at least 19 states ban ownership altogether. Several restrict the types you can own or mandate permits or other measures, such as insurance. Other states have no restrictions on owning monkeys.

Even if you live in one of the latter states, you might find some roadblocks to owning a monkey. First, keep in mind that purchasing a monkey likely will cost thousands of dollars, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars.

But even if your bank can live with such a purchase, another business might not – namely your home insurance provider. Now remember, home insurance providers balk at covering a dog belonging to some breeds – pit bulls, chows, Staffordshire terriers, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, among others. That’s even if a particular dog has no bite history.

As for monkeys, providers likely would consider them on a case-by-case basis, but the owner would face a lot of questions from his or her agent. Many will likely say ‘no’ because of the uncertainty involved or would exclude any incident surrounding the monkey from coverage.

Why having no liability coverage matters

You also wouldn’t be covered under your home insurance policy if you don’t tell your provider you bought a monkey as a pet. Why is liability coverage such a big deal?

Because if a visitor to your home gets bitten and sues, you wouldn’t have help from your provider, as you could in a slip-and-fall accident or some other injury. Statistics aren’t available on monkey bites, but the Insurance Information Institute (www. iii.org) does have them on dog bites. The average claim for dog bites (and other dog-related injuries) totaled more than $32,000 in 2014.

Biting (and scratching) aren’t the only potential health risks involved with owning a pet monkey. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that as many as 25% of macaques (a type of monkey) have or have had the herpes B virus, which can be fatal to humans. And keep in mind that many vets won’t accept monkey patients.

When it comes to safety and satisfaction, you’re likely better off with a sock monkey than the real thing. And that’s even if you find them creepy – as many people do.

 

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