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

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

    Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

    £23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

    MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

    Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee