Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

Throughout the United States, people struggle with a nightmarish pest that feeds on their blood like a vampire in the middle of the night. Bed bugs are vicious predators that live up to their frightening reputation. Most residents are fearful after these insect armies have invaded their space, and with good reason.

Bed bug rates were much higher in the United States than previously suspected.

According to a survey conducted by the University of Kentucky and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), bed bug rates were much higher in the United States than previously suspected. Almost 97 percent of respondents said they treated their home for bed bugs in the past year.

In this article, you'll learn whether homeowners and rental insurance coverage pay for bed bug removal. Also, we have tips on preventing bed bugs and how to get rid of them.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

Homeowners insurance (HOI) is a policy that covers private residences. This insurance coverage acts as a financial safety net when a named peril damages or destroys your home due to a sudden or accidental cause. A bed bug infestation doesn't fall into this category.

Your insurance company will usually provide coverage against the perils named in the policy. Homeowners insurance usually protects you against several common home insurance perils listed in their policies, such as:

Home insurance policies won’t cover damage that occurs due to poor home maintenance issues.

Home insurance policies won't cover damage that occurs due to poor home maintenance issues. Additionally, insurance companies don't provide coverage for preventable situations, like insect infestations.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bug Infestations?

Can you file a renters insurance claim to pay for extermination? A renters insurance policy offers coverage similar to benefits in a homeowners insurance policy. Renters insurance policies cover a tenant's personal property in a rental unit if they are damaged by a named peril.

Renters insurance only pays for a situation that the insurance industry considers accidental or immediate.

Renters insurance only pays for a situation that the insurance industry considers accidental or immediate.

Will your renters insurance policy cover extermination treatments? It is unlikely since renters insurance excludes issues that develop gradually, like infestations. It takes 1.5 months for a bed bug infestation to develop after a female bed bug has laid all of her eggs.

Infestations are preventable. They start slowly and get progressively worse, so most renters insurance policies don't cover them.

Infestations are preventable so most insurance policies don’t cover them.

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Advertiser Disclosure: Your Landlord

Some states and cities have bed bug-specific laws requiring landlords to disclose a property's history of bed bugs if a prospective tenant asks; others require disclosure even if no one asks. Nearly all the laws prevent a landlord from renting or advertising a unit with a known current infestation.

Nearly all laws prevent a landlord from renting or advertising a unit with a known current infestation.

In New York, for example, the "right-to-know" law requires that landlords in New York City disclose a building's bed bug history to potential tenants. Commercial landlords, those that rent to businesses are not required to disclose problems.

Does an Open Peril or All-Risk Policy Cover a Bed Bug Infestation?

An all-risk or open peril policy covers all risks unless they exclude them under their policy. Although this insurance provides extensive coverage, they usually exclude infestations like bed bugs.

Does Landlord Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

According to the American Apartment Owners Association, it can cost up to $50,000 to get rid of bed bugs from rental units. The organization reports that one 217 room rental unit in New York City paid almost $250,000 for exterminators to control their bed bug pest control problem. The organization recommends that landlords consider getting bed bug insurance coverage to pay for these expenses.

Most landlord commercial insurance policies have exclusions for infestations, like bed bugs. The landlord's policy may cover pest control or extermination treatments if the landlord purchased bed bug insurance endorsement. Ask before you start putting bed bug extermination on credit cards.

If you're a college student, you can ask the student housing association if they have this coverage. You may have the option to swap out mattresses too. You're encouraged to report signs as early as possible to prevent a dormitory-wide infestation. And don't worry, no one expects you to spend your student loans on extermination.

Homeowners and Renters Insurance Have Policy Exclusions for Bed Bug Infestations

Homeowners and renters insurance policies only cover losses they consider preventable. They exclude coverage for infestations, such as mice, termites and insects like bed bugs.

Unfortunately, the exterminator expenses will likely be your responsibility as a renter and come out of your pocket. You can't ask your landlord or management company to pay for an exterminator to get rid of them.

These are expenses that your homeowners or renters insurance policy won't cover:

  • Bed bug damage

  • Pest control, extermination costs and removal of bed bugs

  • Replacing items infested by bed bugs

  • Personal things destroyed during the extermination process

  • Living expenses you incurred if your home was uninhabitable

Additionally, your homeowners and renters insurance won't cover the co-pays for visits to the doctor's office to diagnose any medical issues associated with the infestation. You will have to submit these bills to your health insurer.

Contact your insurance company to learn more information about what your renters or homeowners insurance policy covers. Local agents can answer any questions you may have.

Identifying a Bed Bug Infestation in Your House

Bed bugs are flat, oval, quarter-inch-long pests that feed on blood. They usually infest mattresses, bed frames, wall outlets, furniture and floor cracks. An egg-to-adult growth cycle is five weeks, and a female can lay more than 500 eggs. These bugs can survive six to 12 months.

Bed bugs are more prevalent and the summer season. They are more active at night.

Although you may not see them during daylight hours, these stealth invaders leave signs:

  • Blood specks on pillowcases and bedding - These insects usually leave behind blood spots that appear to be dark red or brown on bed sheets, pillowcases and mattresses.

  • Cluster bed bug bites on legs and arms - Although they don't transmit diseases, bed bug bites cause skin irritation that resembles a rash or hives. These insects bite and feed on blood.

  • Discarded exoskeletons - Some bugs will leave eggs or exoskeletons on mattresses and sheets.

What Is the Cost of Treating Bed Bugs?

Pest infestation of any sort can be very stressful and costly. The price may depend on the severity and the type of infestation. Bed bugs are one of the most costly infestations because they require long extermination and a variety of methods to get rid of them. The average prices of these exterminations range between $300-$1200, depending on the size of your living space.

For example, a studio or one-bedroom apartment cost between $300- $900, while a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment costs around $400-$1,200. Bigger houses have a much higher price ranging from $800 to $2,500.

Another factor that determines the extermination fee is the treatment the exterminator uses.

The most expensive method to exterminate bed bugs is steam. The exterminator doesn't use chemicals; instead, the professional sprays a hot mist that kills the bed bugs and eggs. The steam treatment costs $250 to $1,000 per room.

Heat is the cheapest extermination treatment to eliminate bed bugs. The exterminator drives hot air into the space to get the room temperature over 120 degrees. It is somewhat effective as bed bugs have a low tolerance for the heat but may still survive. This type of treatment costs around $1 to $3 per square foot.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

There isn't an effective insecticide to kill bed bugs. You may need to call a pest management company or an exterminator that specializes in bed bugs to rid them from your house. If you don't have to access these solutions, you can use the following do-it-yourself tips to rid yourself of bed bugs.

  • Vacuum your apartment or house to get rid of visible bed bugs. This step is not enough to get rid of a bed bug infestation since these bugs are not always visible to the naked eye.

  • Submerge and cleanse your belongings using hot water and soap. Bed bugs can't survive in temperatures above 113 degrees. Treat infected items in the washer or dryer, especially your bedding, since bed bugs usually gather in mattresses.

  • Use tools called interceptors to stop bed bugs from climbing your furniture.

  • Examine your house for any remaining bugs.

Although you can take these steps yourself, the NPMA warns that pest extermination isn't a do-it-yourself job. Exterminators have the experience to effectively treat your home to kill existing insects and prevent a re-infestation.

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How to Prevent Bed Bugs

Did you finally manage to get a bed bug infestation under control at your house? If so, congratulations. These infestations are notoriously difficult to get under control, even with the help of a pest management company. There are several tips you should consider to prevent re-infestation of your house. If your home has not been infested, these tips will prevent it from happening.

1.) Get encasements to cover your mattress or box springs

Purchase mattress and box spring encasement and bed bug interceptors to protect your house and furniture from bed bugs. Bed bug encasements won't exactly stop them from coming into your house, but they will make it easier for you to eliminate them.

These encasements trap the bugs, which then die of starvation. The interceptors are cups placed under each foot of the bed frame to prevent bed bugs from climbing onto your bed.

2.) Always inspect second-hand furniture

Thrifting has become popular in recent years. Sometimes, people buy second-hand furniture because it is beautiful or nostalgic, but there is a chance that these items bed bug eggs. Inspect all second-hand furniture before bringing these items into your house. Bed frames and mattresses have the highest chance of holding bed bugs and their eggs, so thoroughly check this furniture before bringing them home.

3.) Wrap your suitcases and bags when you visit hotels

Bed bugs attach to items and spread to other areas. They latch onto items like suitcases and duffle bags.

Safeguard your luggage when you are visiting a hotel or other homes. One expert recommends that you wrap your suitcases in a trash bag when you arrive at a hotel to reduce the risk of catching bed bugs on trips. Another way to prevent getting bed bugs from hotels or other spaces would be to place your baggage on a desk or in the bathroom since those are areas where bed bugs are less likely to hide.

4.) Clean your luggage and clothing after trips

As stated before, bed bugs often stick to our belongings such as luggage and clothes, so another way to prevent bringing bed bugs home would be to wash everything immediately.

When you arrive home from the hotel, vacuum your luggage to get rid of bed bugs. Not only clean your luggage but make sure to wash the clothes that you took on your trip, even those that are clean, so you don't infest your closet.

5.) Laundry facilities

When you take your clothes to a dry cleaner, alert them that you suspect you have a bed bug issue. They will take precautions to protect other customers from getting these pests. Some facilities will recommend that you take your clothing to a specialist until you have eradicated the problem. If you take your clothing to a laundromat, wash your clothing at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 113 Celsius. These are the best temperature ranges to kill bed bugs

6.) Clean your house to prevent an infestation

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs and other pests can form great hiding places in cluttered areas and dirty places. Cleaning up your house can be a great way to reduce hiding spots for bed bugs. Bed bugs also like to hide in cardboard boxes so it is better to replace them with plastic containers.

7.) Monitor your pets for bed bugs

Another way to avoid getting bed bugs is to monitor your pets for these parasites. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation found that bed bugs like to travel on your pets and live in their bedding; so, veterinarians advise you to inspect your pets and their belongings, too.

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