Renters insurance vs bed bugs
We’ve been making lists with all the scenarios covered by the renters insurance policy, but you might have noticed something missing: bed bugs (add cockroaches and rats, while we’re at it).
Bed bugs are considered the responsibility of the tenant—the lease agreement states clearly that renters agree to maintain the home they live in and that includes deterring or eliminating pests. This is true, regardless of the type of rental unit, whether it is an apartment or a single-family home.
Renters insurance cannot help when it comes to bed bugs, you will not be able to file a renters insurance claim for the cost to exterminate the pests, the damage caused by the them or medical costs associated with them.
Unfortunately, damage caused by bed bugs (as well as other household pests) is typically not included in the policy as most insurance companies see bed bugs as an upkeep issue rather than an uncontrollable “peril.” Furthermore, bed bugs ‘travel’ by latching onto luggage or clothes, thus they can be easily brought into an apartment by the tenant. It’s very unlikely that the landlord or management company are to blame.
Unfortunately, even when they are at fault, renters insurance still might not be of any help. For example, your landlord or management company neglect to keep common areas clean and clear of things that might attract bed bugs. If this turns into an infestation and bugs find their way into your apartment, your landlord might be to blame. Yet, as a renter you won’t be able to file a claim for related damages to the cost to exterminate the bugs.
Instead, as the tenant, you might have to sue your landlord or management company, but keep in mind that this is another thing renters insurance doesn’t cover. Personal property protection doesn’t cover damages due to bed bugs and liability protection only covers expenses related to claims and lawsuits filed against the policyholder.
There are two exceptions—those living in Florida and Maine are the only U.S. citizens who can ask their landlords and management companies to exterminate bugs from their residences and be mandated by the law to do so. Unless you live in any of the two states, as soon as you find a bed bug, vacuum it and throw it away in a tightly sealed bag and then wash the bed sheets in hot water. If that doesn’t work, call an exterminator.