Find out if your home insurance could pay out to get rid of pests.
An infestation of pests - whether rats, mice, wasps or squirrels - can cause havoc in your home.
These sorts of unwanted intruders not only pose a potential health hazard, they might also cause damage to your property that can cost a lot to put right.
In most cases, a standard home insurance policy won’t cover you for the cost of removing an infestation of rats and mice in your home or for any damage they cause.
That’s because insurers expect you to carry out the sort of routine hygiene and maintenance in your home that could have prevented these rodents from entering in the first place.
In most cases, your buildings insurance should pay out for unforeseen events. For example, say a rat gnawed through a water pipe, causing a flood. Removing the rats and fixing the damaged pipe probably wouldn't be covered, but if your walls, floors and possessions were damaged by the flood water, repairing or replacing those will likely be covered.
And there are home insurance add-ons that could cover you for problems caused by pests.
Home emergency cover, for example, is an add-on that aims to provide fast, professional help to put right problems that would otherwise render your home uninhabitable, unsafe, insecure or cause damage to your property and its contents. In general, things like storm damage that’s caused a leak in your roof, your home heating system failing or a broken door or window are covered.
In terms of pests, home emergency cover might pay for the costs of removing a sudden infestation of mice, rats, or a wasps’ or hornets’ nest that leaves one or more rooms in your home unsafe or poses an immediate risk.
It could kick in too, if, for example, a rodent gnawed through an electricity wire and caused your supply to completely fail.
This type of insurance will pay for the call-out fees and emergency repairs - but not usually for the damage that the pests might have caused.
A few insurers offer specialist ‘pest insurance’. This will typically cover call out and labour, control or extermination fees to get rid of rats, mice, squirrels, wasps, hornets and bedbugs.
Policies will usually cover pests that can be harmful to public health and wellbeing, including:
Rats and mice will often choose to nest in your wall cavity or beneath floorboards and will tear up materials such as your wall and loft insulation to make a cosy home.
A rat’s front teeth are constantly growing and, to keep them manageably short, they gnaw on all sorts of hard objects. These can include the building materials of your home like wooden floor joists and roof timber, plastics, soft metals - and even some types of brick.
Rodents can chew their way through your home’s electrical wiring, water and gas piping - leading to a risk of short-circuiting, fire and floods.
Both rat and mouse droppings are dark brown and shaped like grains of rice.
Rats are usually active at night - so you may hear scurrying or scratching noises or even squeaks at bedtime.
Check in your cavity walls, roof space or loft for rat nests made from soft materials - such as insulation and shredded newspaper.
Rats and mice will leave teeth marks in things like packaging and cardboard around the home. Also look for marks in wood around skirting boards and gnawed holes in the roof space.
If you suspect a mice infestation in your kitchen, try sprinkling the floor with flour overnight and check for footprints in the morning.
Rats tend to use the same route in and out of property and around the home, which will become soiled and dirty over time.
Signs of bedbugs can include:
Rats and mice can squeeze through the smallest of holes. Take a look around the outside ground floor of your property and seal off every possible point of entry. Look especially around points where piping enters your home, check for broken air-bricks, plus examine vents. Fit barriers or intercepting traps to drains.
Keep your kitchen spotless by sweeping away crumbs and food spills from the floor and worktop surfaces. Store leftover food in sealed containers. Throw away uneaten pet food and wash pet bowls thoroughly.
Empty your kitchen bin regularly, ensure your outdoor bins are not overflowing, and that their lids fit securely. Open compost heaps can attract vermin - so do your composting in a sealed bin.
Garden clutter - such as piles of leaves, grass cuttings and wood - are a good source of shelter and nest material for pests. So try to clear them regularly.
Bedbugs don’t just hide in your bed, they can live in your bed frame or skirting boards. Keep the area around your bed as uncluttered as possible and vacuum your bed and surrounding area regularly.
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