Pests and vermin are costing homeowners money – a survey carried out by ICM revealed that in the last year, one in ten homeowners have had to pay a bill as a result of damage caused by the little critters. Most of the damage is caused by the five most common pests: mice, wasps, gray squirrels, rats and hornets – and which year on year invade our homes, causing all kinds of damage.
The problem is that although most home and contents insurance policies cover the results of a pest problem, for example a fire caused by chewed wiring, under the incidental damage part of the policy, they do not cover the damage itself. So if you discover that you are sharing your house with vermin, then you will probably have to cover the associated costs yourself.
There are a few exceptions. Saga, for example, includes damage caused by squirrels in all its policies. Choose its Cover Plus policy and damage by all vermin is covered.
Esure is another remarkable exception, and they now offer full cover for damage from the top five most common vermin to all policy holders for an extra £ 21.99 a year. Compare that to the cost of having a hornet's nest removed – £ 100 – or £ 150 to have rodents eradicated, and it looks like a good investment.
Peter Priestley, president of the British Pest Control Association, has seen some of the worst pest cases, the most notable being a house in Preston where the upper floor of a house completely collapsed as a result of rats chewing through the joists. In the Isle of Man, they have a particular problem with rats. One man was found dead, having fallen down the stairs – the bottom half of his torso had been eaten by rats that had entered his house.
More everyday cases involve squirrels breaking ornaments and deterioration furniture – causing damage that regularly adds up to £ 4000. Mice and rats chewing through flooring is another expensive problem, the bill can reach £ 1500 in a worst-case scenario. The costs of eradicating the pests can also be inflated due to the fact that the pest control is currently unregulated. As an Esure spokesperson said, "Many people are left to find their own contractor, potentially calling out 'cowboy' pest controllers to their homes to then be faced with a hefty bill."
The best insurance is prevention, and we have put together some tips to help you avoid being targeted by vermin.
o Keep your garden and the area around your house free of spilled rubbish, make sure the rubbish goes in a bin that had a lid.
o Do not leave spilled birdseed under feeders and bird tables – it could attract mice, rats and squirrels.
o Seal up holes around pipework – mice can get through tiny gaps. The basic rule is, if a pencil fits in the hole, so can a mouse.
o Keep your home clean – do not leave dirty plates out, clean up spills and vacuum on a regular basis.
o Do not leave piles of wood, leaves, pipes and other detritus in the garden as it provides a perfect hiding place for mice.
o Try not to keep items like clothes, cuddly toys and tissue paper in the loft – it provides a perfect nest for wasps and hornets.
If you live near a nature reserve or an area that is rich in wildlife, then it may be worth considering getting cover against pest damage. However, if you follow the above advice and also make regular checks then you may catch them in time, before they ruin your roost!