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Rats! I have mice. Does home insurance pay for pest control?

Discovering pests in your home like mice and rats can be frustrating and downright gross. But the reality is more Canadians are dealing with pest problems during the pandemic. 

The government-mandated restrictions and shutdowns have created a rodent problem in many big urban centres. With restaurants and other foodservice businesses operating at limited capacity, there is less food waste behind buildings where rodents often live and eat. 

The lack of food waste has forced rodents to search further for their meals.  Add to this, less foot and car traffic means the rodent population has grown at a higher rate without disruption. 

Pest control companies like Abell Pest Control are reporting a 50 percent uptick in business during the pandemic. 

Rodents like mice and rats can cause a lot of damage to a home. They are chewing through wires, disrupting piping and causing floods. Infestations can mean homeowners have to fumigate and possibly renovate areas where pests have been living. 

If this happens to you, will home insurance help? 

Does home insurance pay for pest control?

Pest control is considered routine maintenance, and therefore your home insurance policy won’t cover it. Much like home insurance doesn’t cover the normal wear and tear of your home, either. 

If you notice droppings from mice and rats or gnaw marks on garbage bins, hire an exterminator. Hiring a professional is critical because, if left for too long,  pests can cause significant damage to your home in other ways. 

For example, rats may chew through an electrical cord and start a fire, or carpenter ants can get into wood framing and cause structural damage. Under normal conditions, fire and structural damage from unforeseen events get insurance coverage. 

However, if your insurer discovers the origin of the fire or crumbling structure was due to negligence, the insurance company could reject your claim. 

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Does homeowners insurance cover animal infestation damage?

Generally speaking, homeowners insurance does not cover damage from infestations of rodents and bugs. Such as:

  • bedbugs
  • squirrels
  • raccoons
  • groundhogs
  • carpenter ants
  • rats
  • mice

As well, homeowners insurance does not cover damage from vermin, pests, or rodents. Had you hired an exterminator or pest control expert, you wouldn’t need to make the insurance claim. 

Does house insurance cover pet damage?

No, homeowners insurance does not cover damage your pet does to your personal property or dwelling. 

I read a story online about a cat that turned on a tap, but the sink strainer was in the plug position. Water had damaged the kitchen floor by the time the homeowners got to it. Their claim was denied. 

However, liability coverage may help cover damage your pet does to another person or their property. Legally your dog is considered your property, meaning you are liable for any damage or injury they cause. 

According to the Ontario Dog Owner’s Liability Act as the dog owner, you’re responsible for all acts of your dog. Even if you are unaware of them happening.  If, for example, your dog injures someone, that person may be eligible to collect compensation for things such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of income
  • Property damage

Ensure your home insurance company knows you have a pet, especially if it’s one known to be dangerous or exotic. It can affect your pricing, but it’s more important that you have the correct coverage in place for when the unthinkable happens. 

If your insurance company isn’t cool with you owning a pet, compare insurance quotes and find a new company willing to love your pet as much as you do. 

The bottom line

If you suspect raccoons or rats in the attic or hear squirrels in the walls, hire an exterminator immediately. Should your rodent problem grow and the damage gets worse, at least you’ll have receipts to show that you tried to avoid the situation. 

 If you have a pet, make sure your home insurance company is aware that it is covered under liability insurance. Animals, welcome or unwelcome, can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Doing the work ahead can save homeowners hassle and money.