Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?
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Standard homeowners insurance does not cover bed bugs because insurers consider them a preventable hazard. Insurance companies reason that regular maintenance via cleaning and disinfecting can fend off a bed bug infestation.
More than 90% of pest professionals have treated bed bugs within the past year according to a survey by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky. Since insurance won’t cover bed bugs, you will need to cover the cost of professional treatment or use a DIY solution.
Why Aren’t Bed Bugs Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Bed bugs are not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies because insurers classify bed bugs as a preventable hazard. Perils covered under a standard policy typically include accidents out of your control, such as natural disasters, pipes bursting and burglaries. Bed bugs, on the other hand, may be contained or prevented with proper maintenance. Insurers believe that regular cleaning and disinfecting can stop a bed bug infestation.
When Would Homeowners Insurance Cover an Infestation?
The cases when homeowners insurance would cover any type of infestation are rare. One type of covered instance may be if the infestation occurred because your home suffered a covered peril. For example, burst pipes are covered in a standard homeowners policy, and if the water damage created an environment for termites to multiply, then you can make the case for your insurance company to cover the termite damage.
However, bed bug infestations generally don’t happen as a result of covered peril affecting your home. They are usually brought in from the outside — from your clothes, travel bags or used furniture, for instance. This is why home insurance claims for bed bugs are rarely accepted.
A liability claim may be one of the few instances in which a homeowners insurance claim for bed bugs might be accepted. For example, say a guest stayed at your home and was bitten by bed bugs in your guest bedroom. If they sue you, then homeowners insurance may cover the legal expenses and your guest’s medical bills. However, this is a highly specific scenario.
What Causes Bed Bugs?
Several factors can contribute to bed bugs occupying your home, such as traveling, buying used furniture and letting bed bugs grow out of control.
Traveling Can Cause Bed Bugs
Frequent travelers are more likely to bring bed bugs into their homes without realizing it. If there are bed bugs in the place you’re staying, those insects can hitch a ride on your clothes, luggage, backpacks and other belongings.
Do a quick sweep for bed bugs in the mattress seams, upholstered furniture and carpeting around the bed before you unpack your luggage. If you suspect bed bugs, ask to switch rooms or change hotels.
When you return home, wash your clothes in hot water and put them in the dryer to kill potential bed bugs.
Secondhand Furniture Can Cause Bed Bugs
Secondhand furniture can spruce up your living space but can also be home to bed bugs. Avoid buying used mattresses outside traditional retailers and if you do, thoroughly inspect the item before loading it into your car. Even if you throw out the infested mattress, bed bugs can still migrate to other pieces of furniture if they’ve already entered your home.
Take extra precautions by steaming a secondhand mattress before bringing it into your home. Running a handheld steaming device will usually kill small bed bug populations if the steam reaches deep enough.
Lack of Cleaning Can Cause Bed Bugs
A single day of cleaning likely won’t fix a bed bug infestation but regular upkeep can help infestations from getting out of control. Consider buying a strong-suction vacuum with a wand extension to help you access the mattress seams and box springs. Washing and drying your clothes using the hottest setting regularly can help kill bed bugs, too.
What Should You Do If You Have Bed Bugs?
Depending on your budget and the infestation level, you can take a DIY approach to remove bed bugs or hire a professional. Removing bed bugs yourself is cheaper but may require regular maintenance, time and labor. Severe infestations, however, will likely require a professional.
First, thoroughly look throughout your entire home for bed bugs. Generally, bed bugs like to nestle in the following areas:
- Mattress seams, folds and box springs
- Bed sheets
- Loose wallpaper seams
- Pet sleeping area
- Furniture and clutter around sleeping areas
Once you identify the problem areas, use the following tips to contain and remove bed bugs from your home.
- Use a strong-suction vacuum to target mattresses, furniture with fabrics and areas around your bed daily.
- Use a handheld steam cleaner to kill bed bugs in problem areas.
- Wash and dry on the highest heat setting.
- Encase your mattress in a mattress cover to starve existing bed bugs and prevent new ones from settling in.
- Discard or quarantine infested furniture.
Hiring a professional will usually resolve your bed bug problem if you can afford the service. Professionals have access to commercial pesticides that can exterminate bed bugs. Insecticides purchased from the store may be ineffective due to bed bug resistance and may spread chemicals harmful to you and your pets if used improperly. The insecticide may be applied as a liquid directly to cracks, bed frames and other problem areas.
Commercial heating services are also available. High heat is deadly to bed bugs and a professional can heat target areas to kill all bed bugs and their eggs.
How Much Does It Cost To Treat Bed Bugs?
The cost of exterminating bed bugs in a single-bedroom apartment can start at $300 but it will vary. Professional services will use multiple factors when calculating your costs, such as:
- Square footage of your home
- Accessibility to the problem area
- How much clutter you have
- Infestation level
- Quantity of furniture that requires treatment
Tips for Preventing Bed Bugs
The following tips can help keep your home bed bug-free or at least address the problem before a few bed bugs morph into an infestation.
- Keep clutter down: Bed bugs can settle in clothes and clutter around your bed or where your pets sleep. Clearing clutter can help you better spot bed bugs when they’re crawling around.
- Seal cracks in furniture, walls and baseboards: Cracks in any type of home decor can be a hiding spot for pesty bed bugs.
- Plug your electrical outlets: Bed bugs have been known to settle in rarely used electrical sockets.
- Use a mattress cover: A mattress cover will help prevent bed bugs from settling into your mattress seams and box springs.
- Vacuum regularly: Regular vacuuming can help remove bed bugs and their eggs before infestations occur.
- Thoroughly inspect secondhand furniture: Always check for bed bugs and consider steam cleaning used furniture before bringing them into your home.
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