This May’s biggest movie, “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” is set in a world where humans coexist with more than 800 species of Pokémon companions. After watching the trailers, the Reviews.com team was immediately concerned with how home insurance companies would cope. In the real world, even the best home insurance companies can be picky about the breed of your dog, so how would they respond to Psyducks, Charizards, and Snubbulls?
“In all my years in the insurance industry, I have never seen a Pokémon exclusion in a homeowners policy,” says Kimberlee Leonard, an insurance analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com. “One would think [Pokémon] liability would be covered in the same way as a dog,” she says, referring to the fact that most policies cover medical and legal expenses when someone is injured on your property — or by one of your pets. However, many insurance companies do exclude certain dog breeds based on their analysis of dog attack statistics (even though the American Veterinary Medical Association advises against breed-specific restrictions). State Farm is a well-known exception to this trend — they only ask if you have a dog, not what breed.
“The fact that Pikachu creates an electrical discharge does suggest [he] could be covered by the weather perils of homeowners insurance.”
Insurance Analyst, FitSmallBusiness.com
In Detective Pikachu’s world, insurance companies would probably adopt a “restricted list” of Pokémon species, or “underwrite specifically for the risk, leading to higher premiums,” according to Leonard. Of course, Pikachu isn’t known for biting people, but his species does conduct electricity through its tails — furry lightning rods that can be used as a weapon. Even then, “the claims could be covered by the weather perils of homeowners insurance,” Leonard says, referring to the “fire or lightning” peril included in a standard HO-3 policy.
However, some of the other Pokémon species in “Detective Pikachu” might be a little harder to cover. Charizards — like the one accompanying Pokémon trainer Sebastian in the film — literally breathe fire. The same “fire or lightning” peril should cover that in theory, but there’s another factor at play here: home insurance doesn’t cover damage that your own dog inflicts upon your property. But would providers classify Pokémon as pets? And what about the Psyduck that lives with the reporter in the film, Lucy? Psyducks have headaches so severe they basically create earthquakes. Earthquakes aren’t covered by an HO-3; Lucy would have to purchase a special endorsement from her provider (or if she lives in California, from the California Earthquake Authority).
One thing that could make living with Pokémon less risky is a smarter home. In addition to home security systems that can keep your home safe from unwanted Pokémon, a few home insurance companies have really embraced smart home technology over the past few years to provide better service and decrease claims. Travelers, for instance, gives homeowners a free Amazon Echo equipped with insurance-based skills. Hippo, a data-driven insurance startup, goes even further. “If Pikachu shows up and blows through a wall in the basement and exposes the pipes, our sensors will detect the leak and notify you that a claim is needed,” says Mike Gulla, Hippo’s Senior Director of Underwriting. “You could keep Pikachu on the front porch, but he could knock over a tree and rip up the pipes in your front yard. Check your policy for ‘service line coverage’ to be sure your pipes and electrical lines are covered.”
- See our picks for the best home insurance companies, and talk to your agent about supplement coverage options for live-in Pokémon.
- Learn how to avoid the 5 most common home insurance claims.
- Read up on the different types of home insurance.
- Don’t forget about home warranties, especially if you live with a Charizard.
Detective Pikachu image credit: Lifestyle Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo