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Does renters insurance cover bed bug infestations?
No, renters insurance doesn’t usually cover bed bugs or any other kind of infestation. There are rare exceptions — for example, Assurant and Jetty offer bed bug coverage in their renters insurance policies.
However, most policies exclude damage from animals that insurers classify as pests or vermin.
What is a pest?
Insects (and other arthropods like spiders and scorpions) are considered pests. So are rodents.
This means that, in addition to bed bugs, renters insurance also doesn’t cover:
- Fruit flies
Your renters insurance provider won’t pay to replace items ruined by these animals or cover the cost of pest control. They also won’t cover your hotel stay if you have to leave your home for a few days while it’s being fumigated.
Why doesn’t renters insurance cover bed bugs?
Renters insurance doesn’t cover bed bugs because it’s meant to protect you from sudden and unavoidable perils like fires and tornadoes. According to insurers, bed bug infestations don’t qualify because they take months to develop and can be prevented at any time.
If that explanation sounds flimsy to you … well, you’re right. After all, most people have no idea they have a bed bug problem until it’s too late. Also, renters insurance covers mold, which takes just as long to grow, and almost never covers earthquakes, which happen very suddenly.
The real explanation is that insurance companies don’t cover bed bugs because they’re a very common peril and it wouldn’t be profitable for them to do so. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
How can I get bed bug insurance as a renter?
To get bed bug insurance, you need to find a provider that offers:
- A bed bug rider that you can add to your renters insurance policy, or
- A separate bed bug insurance plan
Unfortunately, finding either of those can be difficult.
Which providers offer bed bug coverage?
Jetty, a small insurance company, automatically includes a bed bug rider (which they call a “power up”) in their renters insurance policy. However, it only provides coverage up to $300.
Assurant also offers a bed bug rider in several states, but not all of them. You’ll need to call your local office for more details.
None of the other major insurers offer bed bug coverage of any kind, including:
- State Farm
Ultimately, you might not be able to find a provider that covers bed bugs, which means you need to be proactive about preventing infestations from happening at all. If your home does get infested, tell your landlord right away so that they can help you deal with the problem before it spreads to other units.
Is my landlord responsible for bed bugs?
Your landlord is probably responsible for dealing with your bed bug infestation unless you’re the one who brought them into the apartment.
If there’s evidence that the infestation predated your residency (for instance, if the previous tenants complained), or if there are bed bugs in multiple units or in common areas, that suggests that you didn’t cause the problem.
In that case, your landlord is probably obligated to get rid of them for you. However, this varies by state — check your local bed bug laws.
If you can prove that your landlord was at fault, they might also be liable for your ruined property. If you’re thinking about trying to collect damages, talk to an attorney.
If you’re responsible
In most states, if the evidence suggests that you caused the bed bug problem (e.g. if your unit is the only one that’s infested), you’re responsible for getting rid of them, which means hiring an exterminator. The exceptions are Maine and Florida, where landlords are always obligated to deal with bed bugs themselves.
If you’re responsible for bed bug removal but can’t afford to hire an exterminator, don’t panic — there’s a good chance your landlord will help you work something out. After all, they don’t want bed bugs in their building any more than you do, and it’s in their best interests to deal with the problem before it spreads.
Does renters insurance cover theft during fumigation?
Yes, renters insurance will cover it if one of the exterminators steals something from your home during fumigation. Even though infestation isn’t a covered peril, theft is. Some good news at last!