LV= General Insurance (LV= GI), one of the major home insurers in the UK, has issued fresh data which highlights that home insurance claims relating to animal infestations is at an all-time high. Between 2021 and 2022, squirrels caused the most havoc and claims following their presence were up 51% 1. Accidental damage home insurance claims which involve animals has also increased by 35% within the same period.
So far in 2023 LV= has seen a number of claims relating to squirrels, with the average claim costing around £3,000, mainly due to chewing through pipes, cables, decking and fascia boards. The pest can also move roof tiles, make a home within the loft, come down the chimney, or slide down guttering and cause damage.
In one case, a claim cost £30,000 and required the customer to move into temporary accommodation due to damage of the roof timbers and underfelt, before gnawing through the master bedroom ceiling covered in artex and containing asbestos. Other claims include:
- A customer received an electric shock in a sink of washing up water. It came to light that that a nest of squirrels had gnawed through the wiring in the loft, leaving it exposed. The electric wiring was running alongside the pipes of the water tank, which meant an electric current was running through the water.
- A customer noticed a foul smell, and discovered a squirrel had got into the hot water tank in the loft. The tank needed flushing due to contaminated water.
- A customer’s solar panels stopped working, and on investigation a squirrel had eaten the wiring, damaging all 17 panels.
- A customer’s motorhome parked outside the property caught fire due to an electrical fault in the dashboard, caused by rodents chewing the wiring.
Bees & Wasps & Firestarter Householders
Claims relating to wasp nests are also on the rise, with the most expensive home insurance claim linked to a nest costing £26,700. In the majority of circumstances homeowners are attempting to smoke-out or burn the nest, resulting in an expensive insurance claim by setting fire to their property. This usually occurs in the loft space, which is often housing flammable materials such as cardboard boxes and timber frames, which set alight very quickly and easily.
On average, buildings insurance claims linked to fires cost around £30,000. Three of the most recent wasp nest claims include:
- A customer attempted to destroy a wasp nest in the shed by setting it on fire. The policyholder thought the fire was out after throwing over a bucket of water. They were woken in the middle of the night by neighbour’s and fire engines, with the shed ablaze. The flames reached 30ft and also destroyed the neighbour’s fence, decking and summer house.
- A customer discovered a wasp nest in the hedge, and in an attempt to destroy it, set the plant on fire. The fire spiralled out of control, damaging the property and their neighbour’s, including windows, guttering and a conservatory.
- A fire started from a smoke bomb, which was being used to kill a wasp nest in the loft. The fire service attended the property and there was extensive damage to the rafters, beams, ceiling joist, roof and chimney stack, as well as contents within the loft.
Martin Milliner, Claims Director at LV= General Insurance comments, “With an increase in the frequency and severity of storms we’ve seen over recent years, there is a higher chance of animal infestations in loft spaces where animals can get in due to dislodged roof tiles. Our data certainly shows the increase, and making sure your home is checked for any gaps which could let animals such as squirrels enter the home would help prevent the majority of damage we see to pipes and electrical cables.
“The data also shows that most animals are looking for shelter in the autumn and winter months, and wasps move in for the summer months. As we come into spring and summer, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out to see if any animals have made a home and are causing any significant damage. If you do find an animal infestation, get a professional in which is a much safer option.”
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