In January 2024 a US court found that the pecking damage to the roof of a Maryland shopping centre by turkey vultures was caused by an “infestation” excluded under the policy.

The commercial property damage policy excluded cover for “nesting, infestation or discharge of waste by birds”.

The court found that the vulture presence on the property constituted an “infestation” under the plain and ordinary understanding of this term. An “infestation” is commonly characterised as the persistent, invasive presence of unwanted creatures in a specific area and in a group large enough to be troublesome and destructive. The evidence of the vulture activity of the property over the course of many months meets the definition.

A bird damage exclusion may be a good idea to encourage good risk management.

[Mitchellville Plaza Bar LP v The Hannover American Insurance Co case no 22-2089 in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (unpublished opinion)]