WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg media outlet says it's learned Manitoba Public Insurance has changed its rodent claim policy to help the Crown company save $6 million a year.
CTV News says documents it's obtained show that as of March 1 this year, trapping of mice, rats and other pests in vehicles can now be done by exterminators.
As well, not all vehicles will be disassembled to rid them of rodent messes, and air quality tests will no longer be required.
MPI says it had the most stringent rodent claims policy in Canada, and the changes will bring it in line with industry standards.
The company was hit with a bill of more than $35 million for rodent damage between 2012 and 2015.
The cost spiked to almost $15 million last year alone when 3,763 claims came in.
The MPI documents also show the claims have been costing a lot of time, with an average duration of 71 days.
"Safety is our first priority, which is why our claim procedures are being aligned in accordance to guidelines established by the public health agency of Canada,” said MPI in a statement emailed to CTV News Wednesday.
Companies that currently do remediation and restoration work on damaged vehicles see the change as a blow to their business.
Rosanne Montemurro runs two out of about 20 remediation companies approved in Manitoba to rid vehicles of rodent troubles, but with fewer claims coming her way, she's already laid off staff and may let more employees go.
"It would have been great if MPI had given the shops a chance to be part of the solution, said Montemurro.
"It feels like the rug has been pulled out from under us. Our business seems to have been given away to another type of business that has not been through the quality control and accreditation we've had to go through."
Poulin's Pest Control has already handled two dozen claims.
Taz Stuart, entomologist and director of technical operations for the company, said if staff believe a rodent made its way beyond the passenger cabin, Poulin's will notify MPI and the customer.
"We'll assess the level of (rodent) activity and determine whether the interior cabin is dangerous, can be cleaned and if we have the right products to do the disinfection," he said.
MPI said information on its rodent policy change and how drivers can protect their vehicles from pest damage should be available within two weeks, both in pamphlet form and online. (CTV Winnipeg)
The Canadian Press