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Will renters insurance cover a bed bug infestation?
No — renters insurance generally does not cover bed bug-related damages. Renters insurance insures your personal belongings against covered perils such as fire, hail, and theft, but bug infestations are generally excluded from cover.
Why are bed bugs not covered by renters insurance? Renters insurance is designed to cover sudden and direct losses. Bed bugs and other infestations take time to occur, and may happen due to the insured’s direct action. Let’s explore what renters insurance covers and how best to recoup your losses after a bed bug infestation.
- Does renters insurance cover bed bugs?
- Is your landlord responsible for bed bug damage?
- How to prevent the spread of bed bugs
Renters insurance policies dictate specifically what they do and do not cover. Minus some weather-related claims, a covered loss in renters insurance needs to be sudden, direct, i.e., not caused by the insured, and unavoidable in order for coverage to kick in. In the eyes of an insurance company, a bed bug issue is avoidable, not immediate, and a maintenance issue at its heart. Any damage to your rental property, personal liability, or additional living expenses will not be covered by renters insurance.
Most renters insurance policies won’t explicitly say “we do not cover bed bugs.” On your declarations page, they usually group animals, pets, insects into an exclusions section of personal property damage. Look for exclusions to “nesting,” “infestation,” or “discharge of waste” when reviewing your policy information.
Some policies allow coverage for hidden insect or pest damage if the damage causes a structural collapse. The only exclusion to this is if you were aware of the damage. Generally, bed bugs are visible and don’t cause structural issues.
Renters insurance and other pests
Like bed bugs, damage from other vermin or pest infestations are generally not covered by renters insurance. Renters insurance companies see it as your duty to maintain your rental unit. Damages caused by cockroaches, rats, and other critters are generally not covered by a renters policy.
This depends on where you live. In Florida, New York, Maine, or certain cities across the US, your landlord is required to exterminate bed bugs if they’re found in your rental unit. In other locations, this may not be the case.
If you can prove the bed bugs were already there prior before you moved in, your landlord should cover any and all damage that occurred. This may include damage to your personal property, any bodily injury, and additional living expenses.
If you notice bed bugs in your apartment or a rental unit, contact your landlord immediately. Depending on how the bed bug infestation started, your landlord may pay for the professional extermination fees themselves or pass the bill along to you. We generally don’t recommend trying to handle bed bugs yourself via vacuuming or at-home pest control if the infestation is serious.
How to remove bed bugs
It can be difficult to determine the extent of your bed bug infestation. This is why it can be helpful to call a professional exterminator. In the meantime, we recommend the following:
- Clean all linens, bedding, curtains, and clothing in hot water. Dry them and anything that can’t be watched (but is fabric-based) in the hottest dryer setting.
- Vacuum your bed or any fabric area (such as a couch) where they are living. Scrub the area prior to vacuum.
- Encase mattress in a zippered case. Bed bugs can live up to a year without feeding. If the mattress is damaged enough, throw away.
- Declutter your living space.
- Repair any cracks in walls or paint as bed bugs could be living under there
Bed bug-specific insurance companies may exist, but it’s unlikely any of the major renters insurance companies (Lemonade, Progressive, GEICO, Allstate, etc.) will cover bed bug damage. Your best defense against bed bugs is to take proactive preventative steps. Below are ways to avoid a bed bug infestation, according to the EPA.
- Check any second-hand furniture you buy for bed bugs
- Use protective encasing on mattresses and box springs (eliminates their hiding spots)
- Vacuum frequently
- Be vigilant with shared laundry facilities
- Take extra precaution on vacations as you can carry back infestations in your luggage
Although renters insurance generally does not cover bed bugs, it does cover you and your personal property against many perils. Use The Zebra to get a policy quote today from several different carriers to find the best coverage at a competitive price.
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About The Zebra
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.
- The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
- The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
- The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
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