Head for cover! Mice and moles are on the move
Pest infestations are on the rise, and now you can insure for their removal. Alessia Horwich reports
Sunday 29 March 2009
Regardless of where you live, city or countryside, you are never far away from a rodent pest. Last year's National Rodent Survey showed that household pest infes-tations are on the rise, leading to the spread of disease and sometimes even devastating household damage. Insure4Retirement.co.uk, the online provider of cover, thinks the problem is now so widespread that it is introducing a new policy solely covering the costs of pest removal.
The three big problems are mice, rats and moles. Rodent colonies expand rapidly and spread diseases such as salmonella, but their main destructive power is in their teeth. Both mice and rats must wear down their ever-growing incisors, and this need to gnaw drives them to chew through anything – electrical wires, plastic pipes and more – causing annoyances like broken extension cables and even leading to serious incidents such as electrical fires. Moles are to blame for destroyed suburban lawns, but the rocks and stones they heave up in their digging can also damage mechanical equipment from Flymos to heavy farming machinery worth thousands.
Other beasties eager to eat up your fabrics are moths and carpet beetles, which get into the home via birds' nests in the gutters or on the roof. Don't be fooled by the name – carpet beetles are not fussy and will digest their way through not only your rugs, but curtains, furniture and anything else on offer.
The cost for removing these pests varies depending on the size and type of an infestation. According to the British Pest Control Association, the average procedure for rat infestation is three treatments, seven days apart. This includes a detailed report on how the infestation started and what was done to prevent it happening again, and any minor works – plugging up holes and so on. The cost is anywhere from £80 to £120. Similar procedures for wasp or hornet nest removal will also set you back in the region of £80 to £120, and beetle or moth infestations between £70 and £130.
In the past, infestation was the responsibility of local councils, which would deploy pest-control officers for you and pick up the bill. Today, many are saving money by charging people for pest-control services, albeit at a reduced rate. However, waiting lists are long, prices vary and some councils simply no longer offer the service. Trying to claim for pest removal on your home insurance is often another dead end.
Hayley Parsons, the chief executive of GoCompare.com, says: "It often comes down to the individual policy, but as a general rule there will be no cover under a standard home insurance policy for the removal of pests or the damage caused by them."
It is this gap in the insurance market that gave the idea to David Holden, Insure4Retirement's managing director. He says: "I'd had experience of long council waiting lists for pest removal, and high contractor charges, so I wanted to launch an affordable product to help customers avoid the unwelcome cost of private exterminators that result from unwelcome house guests."
PestShield cover is an add-on to Insure4Retirement's standard home insurance policy, and includes the removal of 10 types of pest, including rats, mice, grey squirrels, wasps' nests and booklice. Available nationwide and for £25 per year, it covers up to £150 worth of call-out and labour costs for each infestation. You can claim as many times as necessary.
Specialist insurer HomeServe offers similar pest-contamination cover for £41.99 per year for unlimited claims and up to £300 cover for each occurrence. Like Insure4Retirement, it does not cover the damage caused by infestation, only removal costs from the house or garden.
Esure and Sheilas' Wheels also offer additional cover for five species to existing home insurance customers. Unlimited claims cost £21.99 and £19.99 per year respectively and pay up to £150 per infestation. There is no excess, but you can't claim during an initial 14-day exclusion period or if the property has been empty for more than 60 days. Pre-existing infestations or those that reasonably could have been avoided will not be covered.
Although useful for the removal of infestations, whether you should take out this cover or not really depends on the individual. Ms Parsons at GoCompare says: "If you live somewhere rural where you might expect more of a pest issue, then the cover could be worth it. But for urban areas it might not have as much value."
A huge problem with vermin infestation is the destruction they cause and, like standard home insurance, these policies rarely cover any damage (an interesting exception to this rule is Saga home insurance which does include damage caused by squirrels). However, larger problems resulting from any infestation, such as electrical fires, should be covered, and small-scale destruction may be insured under any accidental-damage cover you have.
If you don't want to pay yet another insurance premium, there are both preventive and curative measures you can take yourself. Kevin Higgins from the British Pest Control Association says: "Lots of people don't want to have anything to do with the pests, but for most pest removal you can go down to your local DIY store and get an approved product with instructions on how to use it."
Stick to products registered with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for actual extermination, and prevent any further infestation by covering up holes in walls and roofs with wire mesh, or stuffing them with steel wool. Rodents don't like either of these and should be deterred from moving in.
Buying property overseas? Check out these hotspots
Questions of Cash: 'Our dividends seem to have disappeared when TSB was bought and then born again'
Mark Dampier: 'Masterly inactivity - the case for sticking with smaller firms'
My Tinder date asked for a refund when I declined a second meet up
The most expensive cities in the world 2015
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 2 Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 The 20 toughest job interview questions in the world
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Day In a Page
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.