Does Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

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Renters insurance does not cover bed bugs. Deterring and eliminating pests, such as bed bugs, is considered part of standard maintenance of a home and the responsibility of a tenant. Below is information about bed bugs and tips useful to renters about the pests.

Are Bed Bugs Covered By Renters Insurance?

No. Bed bugs are not covered by renters insurance. Policyholders cannot file a claim for the cost to exterminate bed bugs and damages caused by the insects (such as replacements of mattresses or other belongings). Your renters insurance also won't cover any co-pays for visits to the doctor's office to diagnose the bug bites or medicine to treat any irritation or reaction to them. You'd have to look to your health insurance for that.

Like other pests, bed bugs fall under the routine maintenance of a home that all tenants are responsible for. Landlord and management companies are not responsible for bed bugs in rental units. This leaves you to foot the bill for bagging your items and containing the spread of the bed bugs, getting a new mattress, and even staying elsewhere while your apartment is treated for the infestation.

How To Identify And Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

Generally, bed bugs are brown, flat, oval-shaped insects about the size of an apple seed (5-7 mm). Adults have wings, but the bugs cannot fly or jump like fleas. They feed on blood and are found in cool conditions -- usually in mattress seams, sheets and other areas near human hosts. They also leave behind shedded skins as they grow and small, dark excrement stains. 

Bed bug bites are another sign of the pests, but the small, red welts can easily be misidentified so it’s important to find other indicators. Anyone who sees a cluster of possible bites should inspect their bedding and look for other signs of bed bugs.

If you have bed bugs, there are a number of steps you should take to eradicate the pests. In most cases, the majority of a bed bug infestation lives in and around a mattress. In some cases, the mattress might need to be thrown out, otherwise thoroughly vacuuming the bugs and washing and drying sheets in hot water should get rid of them. It’s recommended that safe insecticides meant for indoors are used as well. In extreme cases, a renter should contact a professional exterminator.

Bed Bugs And Home-Sharing Services

Renters insurance protects the personal property of tenants who use home-sharing services, such as Airbnb, and those services have their own insurance policies, too. However, neither renters insurance policies or any coverage provided by home-sharing services cover bed bugs.

For example, if you temporarily lease your apartment to a guest using Airbnb and bed bugs bite them or destroy their personal property, your renters insurance will not cover any expenses related to that. Any coverage included by home-sharing services also excludes coverage for any damages related to bed bugs. 

When Might A Landlord Be At Fault For Bed Bugs?

Although it is highly unlikely, it is possible that a landlord or management company could be at fault for bed bugs. For example, if there was a bed bug infestation in a common area of an apartment building and the landlord or management company was notified, neglected to exterminate them, and the bugs began causing issues for you and other tenants. 

But even in that situation, a tenant would not be able to file a renters insurance claim. They would likely have to pay for any related damages to their personal property and the cost of an exterminator out of pocket. To recoup that money, they might have to file a lawsuit against the landlord or management company.

Again, the above circumstance is highly unlikely. It is in the interest of landlords or management companies to address all issues with properties that they might be responsible for. If bed bugs infested a common area of an apartment building and they didn’t do anything about it, no one would want to live there.

Exceptions When Landlords Are Responsible: Florida And Maine

Florida and Maine are the only two states that mandate landlords to exterminate bed bugs in a tenant’s residence when they are made aware of them. In all other states, landlords and management companies are not legally responsible for getting rid of the pests. Although, most states have laws regarding bed bugs and commercial properties.

In Florida and Maine, if a landlord neglects to exterminate bed bugs, that might be grounds for a tenant to withhold the rent they owe, break their lease or sue the landlord for damages.

Renters Insurance And Other Pests

Principally, all of the above regarding bed bugs and renters insurance policies applies to other pests, too. Preventing rats, cockroaches and other critters from damaging a rental property is the responsibility of the property’s tenant. 

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