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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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Unwanted pest guests wreak havok in the home

Press release: 24/02/2012

  • One in five (21%) UK homes has been damaged by rodents or pests

  • Over a quarter (27%) of Brits have noticed a rise in pests in the past five years

  • Pest controllers report a rise in rats, mice, squirrels and bed bugs in UK homes [1]

Britain's pest population is growing, according to new research from LV= home insurance. Two thirds (65%) of pest controllers say the number of pests in UK homes has increased in the past year and report a surge in rats, mice, squirrels and bed bugs.

Pest controllers put this down to a combination of warmer, modern houses attracting rodents and poorer street hygiene since domestic rubbish collections have been reduced. The average British household now has the heating on their homes for close to half (5.8 months) of the year and rodents such as rats, mice and squirrels have sought shelter in houses from the recent harsh winters, which has led to a rise in rodent infestations in our homes.

Poor street hygiene has exacerbated the problem with over a quarter (27%) of households saying they have seen more rats and foxes in the past five years, during which time weekly bin collections have been withdrawn and food waste recycling has been introduced. This, along with the reduction and removal of free pest control services by cash-strapped councils has fuelled a pest pandemic in British homes.

Yet these pests are not only unpleasant and unsanitary, they are also damaging our homes. Among all households one in five (21%) has been damaged by rodents or other pests, which has cost over £500 million [2] to put right. In the past twelve months, the most common forms of damage have been caused by vermin chewing through cables (94%) or damaging insulation in the attic (93%), according to pest controllers. Other common damage includes pests eating clothes or carpets (89%), gnawing pipes (77%) and damaging furniture (63%). Over half (53%) of pest controllers have even seen cases where pests have caused structural damage to the home [3].

In some of the worst occurrences one pest controller counted 220 rats in one property and another saw 500 mice in one house. One pest controller saw a bee infestation in which a nest blocked a chimney, causing it to fill up with gas, which later exploded causing significant structural damage to the home. One in ten (9%) pest controllers say they have dealt with properties damaged by fire caused by a rodent chewing through cables and according to LV= claims data, there have even been incidents where whole houses have been destroyed as a result.

Across the country, nearly three quarters (73%) Brits say they have experienced pests such as ants, wasps, mice, rats, squirrels and moths living in their properties. The most noticeable increase in vermin sightings has been in urban areas. Pest controllers say that any home can fall victim to rodents and pests regardless of the type of property or the area that it is in. Older properties are more accessible to pests due to the increased likelihood of cracks in ceilings, outer walls, roofs and basements, but no home is completely impenetrable.

Some home insurance policies exclude damage caused by vermin, leaving those who fall victim to pest damage without cover but LV= home insurance includes cover for damage caused by rats, mice and squirrels, within its optional accidental damage cover. LV= has also launched a new optional home emergency addition for its home insurance customers, which includes the cost of dealing with an infestation of rats, mice, squirrels, bees, wasps and hornets in the home up to £500.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV= home insurance, said "Pests are small but powerful and can wreak havoc in the home, from bees blocking chimneys and rodents chewing cables, which can destroy whole houses. The dangers of ignoring a pest problem can be devastating and those who find unwanted guests in their home should call in the experts before it is too late."

Most common pest per region according to pest controllers:


Most common pest per area

Pest on the increase
(per area)

Worst thing seen by pest controllers
(by area)

North East


Rats, mice and bed bugs

Woodworm causing the roof to collapse

North West


Bed bugs, rats and wasps

Electrical system went down due to squirrels chewing the cables in the loft - caused £1,000 pounds of damage

Yorks & Humberside


Bed bugs, rats and mice

Wood worm damage meant roof timbers needed to be replaced

East Midlands


Bed bugs, mice and rats

Bee infestation in a chimney which filled up with blocked gas and exploded and took out the side of the house

West Midlands


Rats and mice

All roof joists on a house eaten away by a squirrel - roof was literally hanging down

East Anglia


Rats and bed bugs

500 mice in an elderly man's house which had chewed furniture including a piano

South East


Bed bugs

Mice infestation that shredded the furniture and damaged cables and floorboards



Bed bugs and mice

A three-bedroom flat in a tower block had so many cockroaches it took six men to deal with. It was so bad the walls appeared to be moving

South West


Bed bugs, rats and mice

Rats chewed through water pipes in an unoccupied house and brought the ceilings down



Bed bugs, mice and rats

Mice got in and gnawed a plastic pipe of the washing machine and flooded house



Bed bugs and mice

Squirrels chewing cables resulted in complete fire destruction

Which pests are most likely to be living in each area of the house, by area:

  • Attic or loft: squirrels, rats, mice and bats

  • Bedroom wardrobes: moths

  • Carpets: moths

  • Sofas/Beds: bed bugs

  • Wooden furniture/ beams: wood worm and wasps

  • Kitchen, bathroom: ants

  • Under the shed: foxes

  • Wall cavities: bees and hornets

Which area of the house are pests usually found in, by pest:

  • Ants - most likely to live in the kitchen, basement and lounge

  • Bees - most likely to live in the loft, shed/ outbuildings and chimney

  • Bed bugs - most likely to live in the bedroom

  • Beetles - most likely to live in the kitchen, lounge, basement and hallway

  • Cockroaches - most likely to live in the kitchen and bathroom

  • Crickets - most likely to live in the kitchen and shed/ outbuildings

  • Fleas - most likely to live in the lounge, bedrooms and the kitchen

  • Foxes - most likely to live in or under sheds/ outbuildings

  • Hornets - most likely to live in the loft and shed/outbuildings

  • Mice - most likely to live in the kitchen, loft, and basement

  • Moths - most likely to live in the bedrooms, lounge and kitchen

  • Rats - most likely to live in lofts, kitchens, basements and shed/ outbuildings

  • Squirrels - most likely to live in the loft

  • Termites - most likely to live in the loft

  • Wasps - most likely to live in the loft and the shed/outbuildings

  • Weevils - most likely to live in the kitchen

  • Woodlice - most likely to live in the kitchen

  • Woodworm - most likely to live in the loft


All research unless otherwise stated undertaken by ICM. Total sample size was 2008 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8 February - 17 February 2012. The ICM survey was carried out online. The ICM figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Additional research was conducted by PCP Market Research amongst 301 pest controllers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8 February - 17 February 2012. The PCP survey was carried out over the telephone.

  1. According to research conducted by PCP among pest controllers.

  2. There are 22 million households in the UK according to the Environment Agency and according to ICM data 21% of households have experienced pest damage to their home or possessions at an average cost of £109 to replace or rectify. 0.21 x 22M x £109 = £503 million.

  3. According to research conducted by PCP among pest controllers.

About LV

LV= employs 5,000 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.