The process of ridding your house of a pest infestation — be it cockroaches, termites, or fleas — can be time consuming and costly. Depending on the type and severity of the infestation, it could take weeks for your house to get back to normal.
One particular type of pest that is notoriously hard and expensive to get rid of: bed bugs. If you have a bed bug infestation, you might wonder if your homeowners insurance can help you pay for the extermination. Though homeowners insurance covers a variety of perils, bed bugs and other pest infestations are typically excluded from home insurance coverage.
Why homeowners insurance doesn’t cover bed bugs
Bed bugs, termites, and other pests are excluded from homeowners insurance coverage because they're seen as a preventable hazard. Bed bug infestations are considered a matter of home upkeep, not something that's sudden and accidental — a requirement to be covered by homeowners insurance.
Below are common home insurance perils that are covered by a home insurance policy:
When homeowners insurance might cover infestations
There are specific circumstances when homeowners insurance might cover pest infestations if it was caused by an event that’s covered by your policy — what's referred to as a proximate cause. If the peril that's considered the proximate cause of an infestation is covered, then you may be reimbursed for the extermination and other losses.
Let's take a look at an example.
Say a pipe bursts in your home and causes water damage that leads to a termite infestation. Your home insurance company might reimburse you for the resulting termite damage since the proximate cause — a burst pipe — is covered by your policy.
How much does it cost to treat bed bugs?
The average cost of bed bug extermination is $1,000 to $2,500, according to HomeAdvisor.  However, how much you pay will vary depending on where you live, the size of the infested area, and the severity of the problem. It typically requires two to three sprays by an exterminator over a span of two weeks.
What causes bed bugs?
Bed bugs aren’t caused by events like water damage, fire, or a damaged roof. And contrary to popular belief, bed bugs also aren’t attracted to dirty or unclean areas.
Bed bugs are hitchhiker bugs, so many times they stick to your clothes and you unknowingly bring them back to your house. Or if you live in an apartment complex, they can travel through vents from apartment to apartment.
Since proximate cause would very rarely apply to bed bugs, it’d have to be a really unique situation for your insurer to consider covering them.
What to do if you have bed bugs
If you have bed bugs, don’t panic. Bed bugs don’t actually carry any disease and aren’t harmful beyond the itching and swelling caused by bites. However, bed bugs can damage furniture, like your bed, couch, and even your bookshelf.
Common signs of bed bugs
Bed bugs are small and they bite at night while you’re sleeping, so they can be difficult to spot.
Here are a few common signs of bed bugs that you should look out for:
Red, clustered bites on your legs or arms
Specks of blood on your pillowcase or sheets
Black specks on your mattress and small shedded exoskeletons
Pest control can come to your home to assess the infestation and confirm if you have bed bugs or not. If you do have bed bugs, the extermination process typically takes two weeks. Exterminators typically spray twice — once on day one and once on day fourteen.
How to minimize a bed bug infestation
Here are a few measures you can take to help minimize your infestation.
Wash and dry anything you can on high heat. Bed bugs cannot survive in extreme temperatures. You should gather all of your washing-machine-friendly belongings, wash them, and then dry them in the dryer on high heat. You should then seal your belongings in plastic bags while your home is treated.
Vacuum furniture, rugs, and curtains. You should empty the vacuum bag afterwards, seal it with tape, and then throw it away.
Highly infested furniture may need to be thrown away. However, depending on the size of the infestation, a chemical treatment may exterminate all the bed bugs in your furniture.