Does renters insurance cover bed bugs?
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
When you bought a renters insurance policy, you probably did so to get peace of mind. With this insurance coverage in place, you have protection against a bunch of life’s what-ifs, including fires, thieves and litigious houseguests. Still, your renters insurance policy won’t protect you against every risk you face. That includes bed bugs.
The vast majority of renters insurance policies don’t include protection for bed bugs. You or your landlord are on the hook for the expense to get rid of these pests. That probably has you wondering, “How common are bed bugs?” These bugs are found in all 50 states, so it’s worth knowing who will be responsible for removing them from your rental.
Does renters insurance cover bed bugs?
In most cases, no. Your renters insurance protects you against the perils specifically listed in your policy. While those perils include a broad range of situations, almost all standard renters insurance policies don’t include protection against pests and vermin. If you read your policy’s exclusions, you may see that it specifically explains that it doesn’t cover animal or insect infestations.
Why aren’t bed bugs covered? Your insurer considers pest extermination part of your rental home or apartment’s routine maintenance rather than a sudden, unexpected peril like the ones your renters policy covers. The insurance provider doesn’t care if you or your landlord handle this maintenance, but it almost certainly won’t be on the hook for the cost.
How to get coverage for bed bugs
If you worry about bed bugs and want to find insurance against them, you have a couple of options.
Instead of a traditional renters insurance policy, shop for all-risks coverage. While standard renters insurance policies protect you against the perils listed in your policy, all-risks coverage protects you against everything unless that thing is specifically listed in your policy exclusions. Find an all-risks policy that doesn’t explicitly exclude bed bug infestations, and your insurer should help pick up the tab for getting rid of these pests.
If you want to keep your existing renters insurance policy, you can also explore an endorsement (basically, a policy add-on) that offers protection for bed bugs.
Both all-risks policies that don’t exclude bed bugs and bed bug endorsements can be hard to come by. You might be better off saving a little money for an exterminator should the need arise in the future. We’ll give you a better idea of what that will cost below.
Bedbugs and Airbnb stays
If you rent out your rental to Airbnb guests, you’re probably wondering if your insurance company will approach the situation differently. It won’t. You’re on your own to get rid of the pests, no matter how they got into your rental.
Are bed bugs my landlord’s responsibility?
In some cases, your bed bugs might be your landlord’s financial responsibility, especially if you can prove the bed bugs were there before you moved in or that bed bugs have been detected in the common area and reported to your landlord but they took no action. If you’re the one who brought the bed bugs to your apartment, it will likely be your responsibility to get rid of them.
Your landlord’s level of responsibility will also depend on your state. Your landlord has at least some legal responsibility to deal with the treatment of bed bugs in certain states, including:
- New Hampshire
The law varies from state to state. In New Hampshire, for example, your landlord has to pay for bed bug remediation but can recover those costs from you if they can show you were responsible for the infestation. To get a clearer idea of which laws apply to your state, review this guide to state bed bug laws as put forth by the National Pest Management Association
How much do bed bug exterminators cost?
Your bed bug exterminator cost depends on some factors unique to you, like the size of your living space and the type of treatment needed to get rid of your infestation. Thumbtack estimates it should only run you a few hundred dollars, but Angie’s List says you can expect to pay $500 to $1,500. It depends on how large your space is and how much local exterminators charge.
The best way to figure out the price for the bed bug extermination is to call a few local extermination companies. They’ll often recommend a consultation at your home. You can expect to pay a nominal fee for that service, but it’s a chance to ask questions and learn about your bed bug extermination options.
How to deal with bed bugs
How much does it cost to get rid of bed bugs? It can be as little as $0, provided you’re willing to put in the work to handle it on your own. Learning how to deal with bed bugs is an involved, challenging process. Bed bug eggs are hard to spot with the naked eye, so getting rid of them requires some guesswork and luck.
If you want to try to eradicate bed bugs on your own:
- Wash everything: Wash everything you can with the hottest washer and dryer cycle. Wash your bedding, pillows, bed skirts, draperies, clothes, stuffed animals and anything else that can go through a wash cycle. If something can’t go through the washer but can withstand the dryer (like shoes), dry it on high heat for at least 30 minutes. Keep what you’ve washed separate so it doesn’t get more bugs in them.
- Take care of your mattress: Clean your mattress by scrubbing all the seams and corners with a stiff brush, then vacuuming it at least a couple of times. Put a bed bug mattress cover to contain any remaining bed bugs or their eggs and leave it on for a year because that’s how long bed bugs can live without feeding.
- Get rid of clutter: Remove all clutter from around your bed and vacuum the area regularly for at least a few days.
After vacuuming, dump the vacuum bag into a separate trash bag you can seal tightly. Consider double-bagging it and take the bag outside immediately to dispose of it.
With everything washed and regular vacuuming, you may be able to gather up all of the bed bugs and their eggs. Keep an eye out and call in a professional if you still notice signs of bed bugs after trying to get rid of them yourself.
To avoid bed bugs in the future, clean regularly around your bed, keep clutter in your bedroom to a minimum and check second-hand furniture before bringing it home.
It’s unlikely that your renters insurance policy is going to help you get rid of bed bugs. That said, you can:
- Ask your insurance provider about all-risks coverage or a bed bugs endorsement.
- Learn your state laws to determine if you can call on your landlord for help getting rid of bed bugs.
- Learn how to deal with bed bugs yourself so you can take fast action if you detect any signs of them.
- Set aside some money for extermination services should the need ever arise.
With a little preparation, you can keep a bed bug infestation from turning into a drawn-out nightmare that drains your savings.