Updated February 24, 20205 min read
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Renters insurance typically does not cover bed bugs or any other sort of pest infestation, like termites or mice
Depending on what state or city you live in, your landlord might be responsible for paying the cost of an exterminator to eliminate the bed bugs
Some companies might offer bed bug insurance, however this is a separate insurance policy from renters insurance
Your renters insurance will also pay for the medical costs if someone is injured in your home and other expenses you’re liable for through the personal liability coverage component. And renters insurance also protects you when your home becomes unlivable due to a named peril in your policy, meaning it will pay for you to stay in a hotel if your apartment is damaged.
Renters insurance covers all sorts of conditions, like fire, hail, and windstorms, that can cause destruction of your belongings and force you out of your home. So it’s natural to think that renters insurance coverage extends to perils of the sentient kind as well, like rodents, roaches, mice, termites, bed bugs, and so on.
However, renters insurance does not cover bed bugs, or any other type of nesting or infesting creature, even if an infestation forces you to find alternate accommodations. That’s because renters insurance policies are very specific about the perils they cover and under what circumstances. Bed bugs may be disgusting and their bites can be painful, but your renters insurance probably won’t pay to exterminate them.
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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, but 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 liability expenses and medical payments to others, but not so if bed bugs bite or infest 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, you should ask an insurance representative 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 extra, specific coverage that you can add to your renters policy, however you usually have to pay extra for the enhanced coverage. Bed bugs riders offer limited coverage to pay for the treatment and remediation of bed bug 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.
If you give your guest bed bugs, your renters insurance liability coverage will not cover the cost to reimburse them or cover any medical expenses they may need (don’t worry however, bed bugs don’t usually carry disease).
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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 multiple units are infested, it may be your landlord’s responsibility.
If you can prove that the bed bugs were there before you moved in, it could be your landlord’s responsibility.
You should check your lease to see if there is a provision about infestations. Usually, it is your landlord’s responsibility to maintain the building, which includes paying for regular pest extermination.
Some companies do offer bed bug insurance, however finding bed bug coverage will take a bit of research on your end. 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 may not cover infestations of other types of critters, and they are not a replacement for real renters insurance coverage.
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.
You may have to kill the bugs chemically or have an exterminator come by to do it. Most exterminators will have to treat your apartment twice for bedbugs over the course of two weeks. Make sure you clean up any mess in your room and clear the area for spraying. The exterminator will also kill any bed bug eggs or larvae that have attached to your furniture. Separate common bed bug hiding places from places where bugs gather, such as bed frames and floors. Throw away anything that can’t be treated.
There are a few measures you can take on your own to minimize the infestation:
Bed bugs cannot survive in extreme temperatures. You should gather all your washing machine friendly belongings and wash and dry them on high heat. You should then seal those belongings in plastic bags
Items that are not dryer-safe should be sealed in plastic bags in order to stop the infestation from spreading
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, a chemical treatment may exterminate all the bed bugs in your furniture, depending how big the infestation was.