Renters insurance usually doesn’t cover bed bugs, or any other type of nesting or infesting creature, even if they force you to find alternative accommodations.
Renters insurance protects you from the financial risk of having to replace your personal property or paying for the medical costs of someone injured in your home. Renters insurance also protects you when your home becomes unlivable due to a named peril in your policy.
Renters insurance protects you from all sorts of conditions, like fire, hail, and windstorms, which can cause destruction of your belongings and force you out of your home. It’s natural to think that renters insurance extends to perils of the sentient kind as well: rodents, roaches, mice, termites, bed bugs, and so on.
However, renters insurance doesn’t cover bed bugs, or any other type of nesting or infesting creature, even if they force you to find alternative accommodations. That’s because renters insurance policies are very specific about the perils they cover and under what circumstances. Bed bugs are disgusting and their bites can be painful, but you may have to pay for their extermination on your own.
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Unfortunately, the vast majority of renters insurance companies do not cover bed bugs. That’s because, in most cases, renters insurance only covers loss when it’s a direct, physical loss. Other types of renters insurance may only cover sudden, physical loss. Because a bed bug infestation occurs over time, it’s not considered a direct or sudden loss. Your renters policy doesn’t cover standard maintenance.
Your renters insurance policy will cover what’s listed under its covered perils section. Most renters policies simply do not list bed bug infestation as a covered peril. In fact, virtually every kind of potential pest problem won’t be covered.
That means you won’t be covered under any of the key renters insurance components. If a fire destroys your mattress, the renters insurance company will replace it under your personal property coverage; not so if bed bugs turn it into a breeding ground. If someone gets hurt and sues you, you’ll be covered under the provision for reasonable expenses for medical payments to others; not so if bed bugs bite a guest and they sue you for that reason.
Your renters insurance policy may specifically state what it does not cover in a separate section, called “exclusions.” If your coverage explicitly excludes bed bugs, the policy will probably not use the phrase “bed bugs”, but it could explicitly bar coverage for them by excluding damage caused by “nesting or infestation, or discharge or release of waste products or secretions, by any animals.”
If you need coverage for bed bug damage, you may have to get an all-risk policy. This type of insurance policy covers virtually everything unless a given peril is excluded. When shopping for a renters insurance policy, ask a licensed representative at Policygenius to show you all-risk renters insurance plans that have coverage for bed bugs.
Additionally, some smaller insurers have begun issuing bed bugs endorsements for renters insurance policies. An endorsement is a type of a rider, meaning that you may have to pay extra for the enhanced coverage. Bed bugs riders offer limited coverage to pay for the treatment and remediation of bed bugs damage, but not for bodily injuries caused by bed bugs.
Even loss-of-use coverage doesn’t apply in a bed bugs infestation, or any other kind of infestation. Also called “additional living expenses” coverage, under this provision the renters insurance company pays you if you need to stay somewhere else while your home is undergoing repair. But it only comes into play for one of the perils named in the policy.
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.
There are a number of companies that offered bed bug insurance, but it’s not clear if any of them still do. Many of the policies on offer were introduced in 2011, at the height of a bed bug epidemic in major urban neighborhoods, and as the epidemic has died down those policies may not be available anymore. Others may only be available for businesses that offer accommodations, like hotels.
Using your current location, point your search engine toward “bed bug insurance” and see if anything comes up. The bed bug insurance policies will function like renters insurance policies in that bed bug-infested belongings may be replaced and your costs could be reimbursed for having to leave home for bed bug-related reasons. However, these policies, if they still exist, may not cover infestations of other types of critters, and they are not a replacement for real renters insurance coverage.
Whether you live in a home or an apartment, the owner of the building could be responsible for paying to clean up the bed bugs infestation. This could depend on your state:
If you have bed bugs, contact your landlord. In some states, as well as some cities, your landlord is obligated by law to treat a bed bug infestation at no cost to you.
Bed bugs can be killed with extreme heat or extreme cold. If you can’t eliminate them that way, you can stop the infestation from spreading by removing any items that bed bugs like to hide in by placing the item in a sealed plastic bag.
Vacuuming also works, and you may have to throw away any furniture, including your mattress, that the bed bugs have infested. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends destroying any discarded furniture to prevent tempting anyone from bringing an infested item back into their home.
You may have to kill the bugs chemically or have an exterminator come by to do it. Make sure you clean up any mess in your room and clear the area for spraying. That could also mean killing any bed bug eggs or larvae that have attached to your furniture. Isolate common bed bug hiding places from places where bugs gather, such as bed frames and floors. Throw away anything that can’t be treated.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.