Does homeowners insurance cover rodent damage?
Do you have a problem with rodents like rats and mice in your home? See how home insurance deals with it.
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Unfortunately, home insurance doesn't typically cover rodent damage. Rodent damage, like termite damage, is commonly an exclusion in most Australian home insurance policies.
But here's how we can help.
This guide covers why insurers won't cover things like rodent damage, how to get rid of rats and some ways you can prevent an infestation.
Why doesn't home insurance cover rodent damage?
You might wonder why a home insurance policy won't usually cover rodent damage, given it covers so many other things. Here are some of the reasons a home insurance policy won't cover rodent damage:
- Insurers generally distinguish between damage that was preventable and foreseeable and damage that was unpreventable and unforeseeable.
- There are plenty of preventive measures a homeowner can take to keep rodents away.
- There are also lots of things a homeowner can do to deal with a rodent problem when it appears – and before it turns into a damaging infestation.
Insurers generally see rodents as a preventable problem that's related to the general upkeep of the home. In other words, it's the homeowner's responsibility, not theirs.
What do the home insurance companies say?
We looked at five major Australian home insurance providers. Here's what their product disclosure statements (PDS) say.
What's the best way to get rid of rats?
Prevention is better than a cure where rodents are concerned, but if you do end up with a rat infestation, it is possible to bring it under control.
If you think you have a rat problem, you should act quickly because a small issue can quickly snowball into a big one.
You'll often need to take a trial-and-error approach to see what works best, but the two main ways to get rid of a rodent once and for all are trapping and baiting:
- Old-fashioned snap traps and seal and glue traps can catch mice and rats with the help of different types of attractant – some people swear by peanut butter, others by apple. Trapdoor-style models are an option for those who don't want to kill the animals.
- Baits are a last-resort option and use powerful rodenticides. They can be a hazard to pets and children and can also harm the environment (e.g. if the poison ends up affecting animals other than the ones you're targeting). You should never use baits inside the house, and if you're going to use them outside, make sure you read the directions carefully.
If the problem still won't go away, it's time to call in a licensed pest professional. Let them know about any animal welfare or environmental concerns you have, so they can factor those into the plan of attack.
How do I prevent a rodent infestation?
Rats and mice look for three things in our homes: food, water and shelter. If you do your best to take those away, you'll go a long way to stopping rodent problems before they happen.
Like with termites, it's better to be proactive than reactive. Here are some tips:
Seal any gaps and holes in the building that rodents could get through.
A mouse or rat can get through even a tiny opening. To seal up holes, you can use a combination of steel wool and caulking agent, cement, hardware cloth, metal sheeting or another method. In houses, holes often show up in the following areas:
- In attics
- Behind ovens, fridges, cupboards and cabinets
- In flooring corners
- Under sinks and dishwashers
On building exteriors, check the following:
- Around any holes made for gas, electrical and plumbing fittings
- Near siding and roofing joints
- Around vent and chimney openings
Keep a decent gap between vegetation and your house.
Rodents are good climbers and jumpers.
Practise good hygiene around the home and especially in the kitchen:
- Clean up spilt food quickly.
- Keep non-refrigerated food in sealable plastic or metal containers.
- Don't leave unwashed dishes lying around.
- Don't keep garbage bags in the house for long.
- Wipe down countertops and tables regularly.
- Keep rubbish bins sealed.
- Keep pet bowls clean and free of leftovers, and keep animal food (dog food, birdseed, chook feed, etc) in sealed containers.
Keep your compost bins or compost heap a good distance from the house.
Don't put meat in the compost, and when you add scraps to a heap, turn the pile so the new scraps are covered.
Don't leave piles of garden waste lying around in the garden, and keep woodpiles off the ground.
These are potential nesting sites for rodents. Also, if you have fruit trees in the garden, don't leave dropped fruit on the ground for long and prune at the end of the season. Putting steel sheeting around the trunk can be a good way to stop rodents from pinching the growing fruit.
Is it time to switch home insurance?
While home insurance can't usually help with rodent problems, it's always a good idea to check on your current policy now and then just to make sure you're still getting the best deal. Compare your options below and get a quote from some popular Australian home insurers.
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