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The process of ridding your house of a pest infestation — be it cockroaches or 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 not one of them.
Homeowners insurance does not cover bed bug infestations or any other type of pest like termites or carpenter bees
Your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover losses related to home maintenance like pest infestations
Homeowners insurance is financial protection if your home is damaged or destroyed by a condition that’s covered by your policy. In order to be considered a covered loss, the damage must be sudden and accidental and can’t arise from home maintenance problems like infestations.
Below are common home insurance perils that are covered by your policy:
Bed bugs, termites, and other pests are excluded from homeowners insurance policies because they are seen as a preventable hazard. Bed bug infestations are considered a matter of home upkeep, whereas fire damage or lightning strikes are not.
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There are specific circumstances when homeowners insurance might cover pest infestations if it was caused by an event that’s covered by your policy. In homeowners insurance, this is referred to as “proximate cause”; if the peril that is considered the proximate cause of an infestation is covered, then you may be reimbursed for the extermination and other losses. For example, if a pipe bursts in your home and causes water damage that leads to a termite infestation, your home insurance might reimburse you for termite damage since the proximate cause — a burst pipe — is covered by your policy.
That said, bed bugs aren’t caused by events like water damage, fire, or a damaged roof. 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. 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.
Home-sharing services typically offer limited coverage for damage caused by guests. Unfortunately, if your Airbnb guest brings bed bugs into your home, you won’t be covered for the damage those pests cause.
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, or even your bookshelf.
Bed bugs are small and they bite at night while you’re sleeping, so they can be difficult to spot. There are 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.
Here are a few measures you can take to help minimize your infestation.
Bed bugs cannot survive in extreme temperatures. You should gather all your washing machine friendly belongings, wash them, 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.
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