Is It Covered? Mouse Plague Hits Rural Australia


Australian farmers have been dealt another devastating blow, this time in the form of a mouse plague that is sweeping across parts of Eastern Australia. The plague is affecting a wide region, from Southern Queensland down to the NSW/Victoria border, with central NSW the hardest-hit area. But damage to businesses, homes and crops will potentially not be covered by insurance.

Why is the plague happening?

The plague adds to the woes of Australia’s farmers, who have suffered through years of drought, followed by water damage and bushfires in some areas.

The breaking of the drought led to bumper crop harvests, and it is this abundance of food that has created the conditions for mice to breed, after breeding activity may have been reduced due to the lack of food that resulted from the drought.

The plague has also been accompanied by a spike in cases of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be contracted when people come into contact with water or soil contaminated by the urine of infected mice.

Insurance implications

Damage caused by vermin, which covers commonly found small animals such as mice and cockroaches, is excluded in most business pack, industrial special risks, farm, crop, and home and contents policies.

This is because it is considered a controllable risk. However, some policies do offer cover for subsequent damage that may result from the damage caused by vermin.

For example, if mice chew through electrical wiring or plumbing piping the damage would not be covered, but if the damaged wiring caused a fire or the damaged piping resulted in water damage, the fire or water damage may be covered under some policies.

Preventative measures

Aside from baiting, there are a few measures that can be taken to prevent mice from taking root in your property.

These include storing food in mouse-proof containers, plugging gaps in floors and walls of houses and sheds, and keeping outside areas clear of rubbish and weeds, as well as keeping grass low.

Help is available

The NSW Government has launched a support package for farmers, businesses and households to assist with costs in fighting the plague.

The $50 million package gives $500 rebates for money spent on baits by eligible households and $1000 rebates for eligible small businesses, while free mice bait is available for crop farmers.

Some banks have also offered relief in the form of deferred loan payments.

For more information

If you’re affected by the mouse plague and would like to understand how your insurance policy might respond to a claim, you can contact the Gow-Gates team by emailing or calling us on 1300 165 116.

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