Renters insurance is a smart, cost-friendly way to protect you and your belongings as a renter. You’re covered from perils such as fire, hurricanes and theft, but what happens if you wake up one morning to find bed bug bites on your body? Does your renters insurance cover bed bugs? Exterminators aren't cheap, but neither is replacing every piece of your personal property because of the intrusiveness of those bugs. You should know what to do so when you notice the first signs of bed bugs, you're prepared to handle them.
Unfortunately, renters insurance policies don’t cover bed bugs. In fact, the standard renters insurance policy doesn't cover bed bugs, rodent, vermin, or any kind of infestation at all. This is a standard exclusion in all renters insurance policies, and we'll go into details about why that is.
We have a free tool that will let you compare quotes from different companies, if you're in the market for a policy after you read up on what is included.
Why does renters insurance not cover bed bugs?
Renters insurance provides coverage for sudden and accidental damage or incidents to the rental property. Bed bug infestations are not accidental, though, in the eyes of insurance companies. It requires one female bed bug that can lay eggs and thus, infest the entire bed, which takes well over a month to start affecting you. Although your realization of a bed bug infestation may be sudden, in the insurance world, there was enough time to have the bed to be cleaned up and the bed bugs expelled.
In essence, bed bugs and other pest infestations are considered a matter of home maintenance, and negligence on the part of the renter isn’t covered under a renters insurance policy.
What can you do to protect yourself from this exclusion?
Now that you know that you know bed bugs aren’t covered by renters insurance, what can you do to get rid of this nasty infestation? Here’s what needs to be done:
- Exterminate the bed bugs
- Replace the items damaged, destroyed or lost due to the infestation or during the extermination process
- Pay for additional living expenses that you might incur if you have to temporarily move out of your apartment during the extermination process
Unfortunately, none of the above are typically covered by insurance coverages of any sort, be it renters insurance, landlord insurance, open perils insurance, or all risk insurance coverage. The exclusion applies to almost all sorts of insurance coverages. However, insurance companies are always coming up with new products and coverages, so, it may be worth keeping a look out for a new coverage that includes bed bug protection. Some landlords, however, do invest in specialized bed bug insurance, just as some students’ housing associations do. It’s always worth checking with your landlord to see if they have one.
In the event neither you nor your landlord are covered by bed bugs insurance, the next step is dealing with the bed bugs yourself, as effectively as you can. Here’s what you can do:
- Vacuum to clean the initial infestation.
- Clean your personal items and belongings in hot water as bed bugs cannot withstand temperatures above about 115°F.
- Bed bug infestations are generally found around mattresses, so have that cleaned and treated, as well.
- Spray indoor-safe insecticides inside your home to make it uninhabitable for the bugs.
- Install some interceptors to hinder the bed bugs from climbing on to other furniture.
- Inspect every corner and nook thoroughly to check for any surviving bed bugs or their eggs.
For a comprehensive step-by-step guide to getting rid of bed bugs, check out this guide from Healthline.
If you’re looking for rentals and would like to find out which buildings have been affected by bed bugs, then you can refer to the Bed Bug Registry, which is a crowdsourced online platform that lists the names of the buildings that have been reported to have been infested by bed bugs. It’s always better to cover yourself from damages at the very first step from a peril that even insurance will not cover. This way extermination costs will not set you back financially.
Does landlord insurance cover bed bugs?
Bed bug coverage is an exclusion even on a standard landlord insurance policy. Some landlords, as mentioned earlier, might still go ahead and buy specialized bed bugs insurance to be on the safe side especially with an apartment building. However, this is rare.
There are only two states: Florida and Maine, and a few selected cities, that mandate landlords exterminate bed bugs as soon as tenants make them aware of the infestation. If you live in an area where your landlord is responsible for exterminating the infestation, it’s best to make them aware in a manner that they can’t deny that you brought the matter to their notice, in the court of law. Do so before there is any sort of bed bug damage that will affect you in a major way.
Bed bugs and home sharing services
Home sharing insurance policies also don’t cover bed bug infestations. For example, if you have signed up for a home sharing service, such as Airbnb, and leased out your place for a few days and bed bugs bit your guests or damaged their belongings, then even the home sharing host protection policy will not cover the damages.
Keeping bed bug infestations at bay
Bed bug remediation can seem exhausting. Given that a typical renters insurance policy doesn’t cover bed bugs, the best practice for renters is to be proactive at keeping your property clean and not allowing a bed bug infestation in the first place. While this may seem harsh, it can help provide both physical and financial protection for yourself, since the bites can lead to medical expenses, and no one wants that sort of financial burden. Plus you don't want to have to shell out for a bed bug exterminator if you can help it.
And in the event you are dealing with bed bugs, make sure you alert your landlord as soon as possible and begin a thorough extermination process. Give yourself plenty of time to take care of the problem, and do what you can around your rented space after the fact. This might bean routine maintenance including cleaning and disinfecting.
To learn more about renters insurance and what it covers, check out our renters insurance blog. And if you’re in the market for a renters insurance policy, see which companies other renters rate as the top renters insurance companies.
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