Winter has ended. The frigid air is starting to warm and the frozen earth is beginning to thaw. As we finally feel comfortable re-emerging from our warm, indoor Netflix-watching hibernation, we will soon discover that we are not the only ones who have returned. The critters, pests, and vermin are back too.
What kind of creatures are we dealing with?
A variety of creatures can make their way into your home including mice, rats, termites, ants, raccoons, fruit flies, cockroaches, spiders, and many more. Some of these pests can cause damage to your property, they can spread disease, and are generally annoying.
But home insurance covers damages done by these creatures....right?
Unfortunately, no. With very few exceptions, home insurance generally doesn't cover property damages due to infestation.
Why don't home insurance plans cover this?
Any damage to a home by critters, pests, and vermin fall under the responsibility of the home owner. These damages fall under what insurance companies consider "normal house maintenance." Infestations are almost always preventable and it is up to the home owner to ensure they are doing everything possible to keep out any unwanted critters.
How to keep Raccoons, Skunks, Squirrels, Cats away
Critters generally want to go into your home for two reasons: shelter and food. By eliminating easy access to these two needs, your home won't look quite as hospitable to the creatures. Here are six tips to prevent an infestation:
- Do not leave any food out.
Make sure that all of the food in your house is in a sealed container, box, or in the fridge. See that sink full of dirty dishes that you're putting off washing? That is a big bull's-eye to insects. Give your dishes a quick rinse if you're not planning on immediately washing them. Wipe the counter and stove clean when necessary. Clean your pet's food dish every night and ensure there are no bread crumbs hanging around in your toaster. If these pests can't find any food, they probably won't find your home all that attractive.
- Secure your trash.
This means inside and outside your home. Pests and critters absolutely love garbage so make sure that they can't get into it. If possible, put all food waste into a separate compost bin and keep it sealed outside (or better yet in a closed garage or shed). You can even try little tricks such as spreading petroleum jelly on the lip of your compost/trash bin to prevent insects from getting in. Baby powder in the bin can also be used as a deterrent. Make it as difficult as possible for animals to knock open the bins. Tie cans shut with bungee cords to keep the larger critters out (like pesky raccoons).
- Cover up any cracks or holes inside and outside your home.
This might seem obvious but it's very important. Inspect inside and outside your home for any cracks or holes that you might not know existed. The only thing stopping a rodent from entering a tiny crack or hole is the size of their skull. That means a rat can fit in a hole approximately the size of a quarter while a mouse skull is about the size of a dime. Keep your home secure.
- Install a chimney cap
For about $100 you can get a chimney cap that is designed to prevent rain, leaves and more importantly birds, raccoons and other small animals from entering your chimney and potentially your home.
- Invest in a dehumidifier.
Rodents and insects thrive in a warm, damp, humid environment. The most humid areas of a home are usually your basement, attic, laundry room, or crawl space. If you have the means, invest in a dehumidifier for these rooms. The preventative cost of a dehumidifier is far less than the cost of damage to your home and the hiring of an exterminator.
- Clear away wood, mulch or plant material from the base of the home.
Keep termites at bay by clearing material like wood, mulch or plant material that’s in contact with the ground away from the house. It provides termites with easy access to food. Avoid using mulch next to the foundation and never store firewood or lumber there either.