Bed bugs are an exceptionally disliked pest and can be hard to get rid of, so renters might be frustrated to learn that their insurance doesn’t cover the insects.
Like cockroaches or rats, bed bugs are considered the responsibility of a tenant. When renters sign almost any lease, they agree to maintain the home they live in and that includes deterring and eliminating pests. This is the case for any type of rental unit, whether it be an apartment or a single-family home.
That means renters cannot file a renters insurance claim for the cost to exterminate bed bugs, damages caused by the insects or medical costs associated with them.
But there are two exceptions. Florida and Maine are the only states with laws mandating landlords and management companies exterminate bed bugs from a tenant’s residence as soon as they are made aware of them. In all other states, tenants are on their own when it comes to the pests because no such mandate exists. Having said that, most states have laws regarding bed bugs and commercial or state-owned properties, such as schools.
If you don’t live in Florida or Maine, there’s little a tenant can do if they think their landlord or company is at fault for them having bed bugs.
Firstly, bed bugs commonly latch onto luggage or clothes and can be easily brought into an apartment by a tenant. It’s highly unlikely a landlord or management company is to blame. But even in some rare cases when they are at fault, renters insurance still might not help you.
For example, a landlord or management company might neglect to keep common areas of an apartment building clear of things that might attract bed bugs. If an infestation ensues as a result and bugs are finding their way into a tenant’s apartment, then the landlord might be to blame. However, a renter probably wouldn’t be able to file a renters insurance claim for related damages or the cost to exterminate the bugs.
To recoup the costs they incur, the tenant might have to sue their landlord or management company – again, something that renters insurance might not cover. Remember, personal property protection doesn’t cover damages due to bed bugs and liability protection only covers expenses related to claims and lawsuits filed against the policyholder.
The best thing a tenant can do is be proactive in deterring bed bugs and, if they find them in their home, getting rid of them as soon as possible.
The easiest thing to do is to keep an eye out for them – bed bugs are brown, flat, oval-shaped insects about the size of an apple seed. They are usually in mattress seams, sheets and other areas near human hosts. But they might be on office chairs, pets or furniture and can latch onto and travel anywhere.
If you happen to find a bed bug, vacuuming and throwing them away in a tightly sealed bag then them washing bed sheets in hot water should get rid of them. In extreme cases, or if they persistently appear, you should call an exterminator.