Homeowners in Canada face many risks, from mold and plumbing issues to pest infestations. The latter is what we will be discussing today. Below, we outline some of the most common household pests in Canada, how to spot the signs of pest infestations, and finally, whether your home insurance policy will cover the cost of pest control.
The most common household pests in Canada
The following is a list of pests that Canadians are most likely to find in their homes:
Rats and mice
Rodents, such as mice and rats often look for shelter inside once the winter sets in. They also look for food year-round and they are known to not only spread disease but chew through wood and even electrical wires, which can lead to extensive property damage.
Termites are one of the worst types of household pests when it comes to property damage. Therefore, preventing termites from entering your home in the first place is crucial. Ways of doing this include making your home drier (termites love humidity) and closing any and all gaps between the soil and any wood sections of your home.
Cockroaches are not known to cause property damage, but the presence of roaches may mean that the living conditions are unsanitary, which could attract other pests. Cockroaches can also trigger allergies and contaminate food.
Bed bugs often travel undetected but can have a serious effect on your personal health and your home. They also spread quickly, so knowing the telltale signs of bed bugs is key, like the tiny dried blood spots.
Signs of pests in your home
Now that you know which pests to look out for, let’s dive into the telltale signs of pests in the home. If you notice any of the following signs, be sure to call an exterminator as quickly as possible:
Droppings in your home could be indicative of a cockroach or rodent infestation. The most common places homeowners find droppings include under appliances, in cupboards or cabinets, and in other dark, hidden parts of the home. Please note that rodent droppings can carry diseases, so we recommend calling an exterminator to handle any droppings you find. If you insist on cleaning them up yourself, make sure to wear gloves and a mask.
2. Small gaps around the foundation of your home
Pests are known to gain entry into homes through even the smallest of gaps or cracks. For instance, did you know that a mouse can fit through a gap as tiny as a dime? If a mouse can fit through an opening that small, just imagine how small the opening needs to be for a cockroach, ant, or termite to fit through it. Thus, we recommend periodically assessing your home for tiny openings to the outdoors. If you find any, patch them up as soon as possible.
3. Chewed wires, food, etc.
Rodents love to chew on things in order to keep their teeth sharp, and in a house, that could mean chewing on everything from food wrappers to electrical wires. Therefore, if you’ve started to notice chewed items in your home, it’s important to take steps to avoid an infestation. First, we recommend calling an electrician to assess your electrical system as chewed wires can be a major hazard. From there, as homeowners, we advise you to discard any compromised food and store the remainder of your food in glass containers or airtight plastic containers.
4. Nests in gutters or eavestrough
Good home maintenance involves the regular cleaning of your gutters. Blocked gutters can lead to many problems, including water damage. But did you know that dirty gutters can become a breeding ground for pests? This is because, when leaves, branches, or other debris collect in your eavestrough, the area becomes an attractive nesting ground for all sorts of insects and rodents. While you might think that rodents or insects in your gutters might not be a major problem since they are outside the home, nests can damage your gutters. To avoid this reality, we recommend cleaning your gutters regularly to ensure they are free of debris, or hiring someone to do it for you. You could also look into installing a gutter protection system in your home.
5. Dried blood spots
Dried blood spots, especially when they are found in your bed linens, are a telltale sign of bed bugs. Bed bugs love to hide in the crevices of mattresses and bedding. If you notice tiny red spots with no other explanation, call an exterminator right away. Bed bug removal is complex and if left untreated can have all sorts of negative consequences, including health-related ones.
6. Skin sheds or egg casings
Many insects mold, including bed bugs, roaches, and beetles. Molting is when an insect sheds its skin to become a larger version of itself. When an insect molts, it leaves behind evidence in the form of egg casings or skin sheds, which may include wings. If you notice sheds, egg casings, or wings in your home, it’s best to contact a professional pest control service. Please note that piles of wings are a telltale sign of a termite infestation specifically.
7. Rotting wood
There could be many culprits for rotting wood in your home, but one of them is pests - specifically termites or carpenter ants. Both of these pests are attracted to humid areas of the home where wood is often softer, like the basement or attic. If you suspect a pest problem, check the area for signs of entry holes or tunnel systems. Exterior wood can also face pest issues, so we also recommend regularly inspecting any decks or fences on the property.
8. Strange or strong odours
Pests that have gained entry into your home can leave behind strong or strange odours. Specific odours that pests leave behind include urine or ammonia, which is common in mice and rats. Rodents may rub their oily fur against walls and baseboards, which can also result in stains. So if you notice an off smell coupled with unexplained stains, it could be a sign of a rodent infestation. Meanwhile, cockroaches are known to leave behind a “musty” smell.
9. Leaks or other plumbing issues
Of course, many factors can cause plumbing issues, but if you’ve started to notice an increase in leaks in your home, it may be time to call an exterminator. Leaky pipes, dripping faucets, or even clogged drains can all attract pests. After all, pests need water to survive, just like humans do, and they will do anything to find it. Pests can aggravate an existing plumbing issue or become attracted to your home due to one. This is yet another reason why it’s important to resolve plumbing problems as soon as you notice them.
Tips to keep your home safe from pests
Keep your household free from pests by following the tips below:
Seal gaps and holes around your house
Make your home as unattractive to pests as possible by sealing all gaps between indoor and outdoor areas of your home, cleaning out the gutters regularly, storing food in airtight containers, etc.
Remove excess moisture from your home
The warmer and more humid your home is, the more attractive it will be to pests. Keep it cool and even get a dehumidifier if necessary. Pay close attention to parts of your home that are dark and damp, like basements, attics, under sinks, etc. And if you notice any leaks, plumbing issues, or water damage, resolve them as quickly as possible. Check out this list of home flooding prevention tips for more information.
Schedule a yearly pest control check-up
Prevention is the best strategy if you want to avoid a pest problem in your home. Even if you haven’t noticed any of the telltale signs of pests listed above, we still recommend hiring a pest control service to evaluate your home every year. Pest control maintenance can save you money in the long run by catching pests early before things get out of control and cause serious property damage. Professional pest control services can offer even more expert tips on how to keep your home safe from pests.
Consult with a professional exterminator
Ultimately, if you aren’t sure whether your home has pests and have no idea what to look for, we recommend consulting with a professional exterminator. Pest control services employ trained and licenced exterminators who can conduct a full-scale inspection of your home to ensure it is pest-free. If it isn’t, they will come up with an effective strategy for treating and eliminating the pests in your home, whether that involves pesticides, traps, fumigation, or something else.
Finally, if an exterminator confirms the presence of pests in your home and takes steps to eradicate them, make sure to keep a copy of all invoices and pest control treatments used in your home. If your policy includes pest damage coverage, these documents may be needed for insurance purposes, such as if you file a home insurance claim to cover the cost of using pest control services.
Home insurance and pest damage coverage
Speaking of home insurance, it’s time to dive into home insurance and pest infestation coverage. As a homeowner, you are likely wondering whether your property insurance policy covers you in the event of a pest infestation. The reality is that most home insurance policies do not protect against pests. Why? Pest control is considered routine home maintenance, which is not covered by home insurance. In many cases, if pests are found to be responsible for property damage, even if the type of damage caused is covered by your policy, such as fire or water damage, an insurance company will chalk it up to a lack of proper maintenance on behalf of the homeowner. Please note that your home insurance policy is unlikely to cover pest infestation damage caused by any insect or rodent, including but not limited to bed bugs, mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, groundhogs, carpenter ants, termites, cockroaches, and more.
Are there any circumstances where pest damage coverage is included in a homeowners insurance policy?
Generally speaking, homeowners insurance does not cover pest damage. However, there are a few specific circumstances in which it might be covered. Namely, if the pest damage that occurred was outside of your control, also referred to as unexpected damage. An example of unexpected damage is if pests gained entry into your home following a severe storm or other unforeseen incident, so long as the incident was a named peril in your policy. Please note that if you choose to file a pest damage-related insurance claim, you should prepare for your insurance company to conduct a rigorous investigation. They will seek to get to the bottom of whether the pest damage was unexpected or preventable. If it is found to be the latter, your claim will likely be denied. To determine this, your insurer will have an insurance adjuster attempt to identify if the damage could have been prevented through routine household maintenance. A few examples of pest damage that are not typically covered by home insurance in Canada include:
- Termite damage: Damage to the structure of your home, caused by a termite infestation, is unlikely to be covered as these kinds of incidents are usually considered preventable.
- Rodent damage: While a home insurance plan may cover unexpected damage caused by the presence of rodents, such as rats and mice, in your home, it will not cover the cost of pest removal.
Please note that first-hand damage from pests is unlikely to be covered by your policy. However, secondary damage from pests may still be covered. For example, if a mouse chewed through a wire in your home that started an electrical fire, your insurer could compensate you for some of the damage. You may not be reimbursed for the cost of replacing the insulation that was damaged due to the mice infestation in your home, nor the cost of hiring pest control services to deal with the problem, but your insurer may give you money for the cost of repairing the specific damage to your property that was caused by the ensuing electrical fire.
Pest infestation coverage and homeowners insurance
Pest infestations are typically not covered by home insurance under any circumstances. This is because insurance companies view infestations as the result of a lack of proper home care. Since infestations usually occur gradually, taking time to get worse and worse, insurers believe that if the pest problem in your home has reached the point of being an infestation, then you likely neglected your property. As such, they are likely to deny any pest-related insurance claims you make. It is important to remember that filing too many claims, even if they get denied, can lead to an insurance premium increase, so it’s best to keep home insurance claims to a minimum, especially if you think the odds of them being approved are low. Overall, to avoid a pest problem turning into a full-blown infestation, we recommend hiring a professional exterminator the moment you notice any signs of pests in your home.
Get in touch with BrokerLink for more information on pest control and home insurance
Knowing what is and is not included in your home insurance policy is crucial as a Canadian homeowner. A BrokerLink insurance advisor would be happy to review your policy and confirm what coverage it features. If you have specific questions about whether home insurance covers appliances, mold, pest infestations, and more, you can come to us anytime. For instance, a BrokerLink insurance broker can read through your policy and let you know in what circumstances pest damage may be covered. While they’re at it, they can also give you tips on how to save money on property insurance, such as by taking advantage of home insurance tax deductibles or bundling insurance policies. A BrokerLink insurance advisor can also recommend the best type of home insurance policy and coverage for you, whether that be high-value home insurance, equipment breakdown coverage, overland water coverage, and more. To learn more about how home insurance works in Canada and whether it covers pest damage or pest infestations, contact BrokerLink today.
FAQ on homeowners insurance and pest damage coverage
Will a pest damage claim increase my property insurance premium?
A pest damage claim could increase your insurance premium. However, it depends on several circumstances, like the type of claim filed, the number of home insurance claims made, and whether the pest damage was unexpected or preventable. It is worth noting that the more claims you make, the likelier it is that your home insurance rates will go up upon renewal. If you aren’t happy with your current policy and it is set to renew soon, we recommend speaking with an insurance broker about changing house insurance
. A broker can review your policy and advise you on whether you should think about purchasing additional types of coverage or raising or lowering your coverage limits and deductibles to better suit your needs.
How do I know if I have a pest infestation in my home?
The most common signs of pest infestations in Canadian homes include droppings, tiny blood spots, rotting wood, chew or gnaw marks on food, boxes, or wiring, nests, strange or strong odours (specifically the smell of urine, ammonia, or musty smells), skin sheds, egg casings, and wings, and small gaps or openings near the foundation of your home. If you notice these telltale signs, contact an exterminator quickly to nip the problem in the bud and avoid the many risks that come with large-scale infestations.
What will my insurance company want to know about my pest damage home insurance claim?
If you choose to file a pest damage home insurance claim, you should be prepared for the insurer to ask questions about whether the damage was unexpected or preventable. This is the main issue they will want to get to the bottom of as the answer to it will determine whether they will approve or deny your claim. For example, you should expect an insurance adjuster to ask you questions surrounding your knowledge of the pests in your home. They might ask when you first noticed signs of pests in your home, when exactly the damage occurred, and what steps you took to prevent the damage or infestation in the first place.
Does tenant insurance cover pest damage?
As tenant insurance is a form of home insurance, no, it does not cover pest damage. Tenant insurance is designed to protect those who rent their homes.
Does home insurance cover pest damage?
Please note that just as most home insurance policies do not cover pest damage, they also do not cover damage caused by a household pet. For example, even if your home insurance policy includes dwelling coverage or personal property coverage, you will not receive compensation for damage caused by a pet. That said, personal liability coverage, which is commonplace in home insurance policies, may cover you if your pest causes damage to another person’s property.
If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.