Bed Bugs and Insurance Policies
Everyone has likely heard the phrase “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” For many of us, it was just a phrase used by an older generation and we've had no experience with the creepy critters. However, bed bugs are making a comeback, primarily because people are traveling abroad more extensively.
If you find yourself waking up with bites and spy these pests in your bed—what do you do? Do you immediately contact an exterminator or your landlord? Do renters' insurance policies even cover damages or medical expenses caused by bed bugs? What does a business or homeowner have for coverage options? Read this guide for more information!
Does Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?
The words “bed bugs” are the last thing a rental property manager or landlord wants to hear from guests or tenants. A bed bug infestation is difficult to control and eradicate from an infested home. So will your renters' insurance cover bed bugs?
Unfortunately, bed bugs are almost always excluded from Renters Insurance and Landlord Insurance. Why? These policies are meant to protect the homeowner, renter, or landlord from sudden or accidental damage. Bed bug infestations don’t happen suddenly—it takes months for an infestation to take place.
Bed Bugs are often listed under policy exclusions on renters or landlord insurance. This is partially because they are preventable. A landlord or homeowner should routinely check for pests and put the proper control procedures in place. Bed bugs are almost always listed as an exclusion in both all-risk or named peril policies.
Any damage caused by the bed bugs, the cost of extermination and removal, replacement of personal items, and even alternate accommodations will NOT be covered under these insurance policies.
Is Your Landlord Responsible for Your Bed Bug Infestation?
In some states, landlords may be responsible to deal with exterminating bed bugs. When might they be liable?
- If they are negligent in their upkeep of the home, vacation rental, or hotel
- They were aware of an infestation before their current tenants moved in and didn’t handle it
- They’ve allowed the infestation to become so severe that you suffer severe losses to property or have to move out
In Florida and New York, a landlord is automatically responsible for bed bug extermination for tenants. If a landlord or hotel is obviously responsible for the bed bugs but refuses to pay for the costs, you may have to resort to legal recourse to pay for the damages and medical expenses.
If a landlord is required to deal with the extermination, the process typically looks like this:
- The landlord must visually inspect to find the bed bug infestation. Conversely, they can contact a bed bug exterminator to confirm whether or not bed bugs are present.
- If confirmed, the landlord must work with a tenant to clear out or decontaminate personal items (i.e. bedding and mattress may need to be replaced).
- They must then hire a professional exterminator to eliminate the infestation.
How to Get rid of Bed Bugs
You will need to hire a professional exterminator to eliminate the bed bug infestation. However, there are a few things that a tenant or landlord must do to facilitate the process:
- Bed bugs and larvae cannot survive in extreme temperatures, so wash any bedding or clothing in hot water, then seal in plastic bags. If you cannot wash and dry particular items, seal them in plastic bags to stall infestation until the eggs/larvae/bed bugs die.
- Vacuum furniture, carpet, and rugs and immediately seal and dispose of what you’ve vacuumed up.
- If sofas, mattresses, etc. cannot be treated chemically by an exterminator, they may need to be disposed of or replaced.
- Trash excess magazines, newspapers, cardboard boxes, and any other unnecessary clutter.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides further information and recommendations for the elimination of bed bugs from your home or rental property.
Can You Prevent an Infestation?
You can prevent bed bugs by following some of the same procedures: eliminate unnecessary clutter, remove papers/magazines, etc. When you travel, be sure to check your hotel or vacation rental bed for eggs, larvae, and bed bugs. If you're returning from extensive local or global travel, make sure you wash your inspect your clothing thoroughly and wash them immediately.
How Much Does it Cost to Exterminate an Infestation?
The cost to exterminate bed bugs depends on how infested your home is. You may have to pay $300 to exterminate an infestation in one room. Eliminating the pests in a large home could run you up to $5,000. The average price falls anywhere between $300 to $2,500. If you do a Google search for pest control in your area you can often get a free inspection or quote.
Does Bed Bug Insurance Exist?
In 2011 there was a highly publicized bed bug outbreak on the East Coast. Because of this, many small insurers—such as Aon, Jetty, and Proper Insurance—began offering bed bug insurance coverage. Jetty will cover up to $300 of the costs incurred. Check out their websites for more information.
However, since this epidemic died down and the insurance has become less necessary, very few insurance companies offer the coverage. If they do, it’s typically an endorsement you can add to a landlord or renters insurance policy—but it may be expensive.
What Does Bed Bug Insurance Cover?
Coverage through Proper Insurance—designed for Airbnb and VRBO owners—can help cover your liability for an infestation. A good commercial insurance policy should include coverage for:
- Commercial Liability: If you're hit with a liability claim, your policy should pay for legal expenses in your defense and settlements up to the limits of the policy (often $1 million).
- Extermination Coverage: Hiring an exterminator is expensive, so great coverage should include comprehensive coverage for the costs.
- Lost income: If your vacation rental loses money, this part of a policy can help pay losses for a specific amount of time.
Get a FREE Bed Bug Insurance Quote
If you’re a landlord or rent out rental properties and believe you need to obtain bed bug insurance or would simply like more information, complete the form at the top of the page. One of our insurance agents will do their best to help you find affordable bed bug insurance.
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