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.
Bank finally sees sense over £6,000 charge for redeeming mortgage two days early
Five Questions On: GB Energy's new tariff
Questions of Cash: 'I want a refund on my TV licence payments but they've turned my claim into a soap opera'
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
Be warned of the dirty tricks the bailiffs pull
- 1 Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 3 Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-diver missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
iJobs Money & Business
£35 - 38k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...
£50 - 80k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Associate Director for the Markets ...
£60 - 100k: Guru Careers: Our client is looking for an Associate Director of S...
Day In a Page
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.
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.
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.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.