Does Renter's Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

Couple peeking from under their bed sheets, wondering if their renters insurance covers bed bugs

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If you have a situation where you discover you have bed bugs you might wonder if your renter's insurance covers bed bug infestation. Renter's insurance, like home and condo insurance, covers sudden and accidental damages caused by insured perils. Although a bed bug infestation may feel like sudden and accidental damage, it is not covered by renter's insurance or by other home insurance; here is what you need to know about bed bugs, your insurance, and what's covered or not.

Bed Bugs and Insurance Coverage

Your renter's insurance policy, like other home insurance or condo insurance policies, cover you for damage to your property due to insured perils and is subject to the exclusions in the insurance policy wording. There are two main reasons bed bug infestations or losses related to bed bugs will not be covered on a renter's policy.

Two Reasons Insurance and Bed Bugs Don't Mix

Insurance is Meant to Cover Sudden and Accidental Damage From Insured Perils

Imagine one day you wake up with bed bug bites and you think all of a sudden you've got bed bugs. You might consider this sudden because its the first time you've had these bites, and given you would not have planned this, it may seem accidental, but for the purpose of insurance, bed bugs don't make the cut. It takes a while for an infestation to develop. It requires a female bed bug (who will be able to lay eggs) and 1.5 to months in order for a bed bug infestation to occur. Unfortunately, this is not sudden and although it may have never been your intention to have bed bugs, it won't qualify for a claim on your renter's insurance policy.

The Exclusions in Your Renter's Policy

Renter's insurance does not cover damage from bugs, vermin, rodents, or other infestation, this is an exclusion. Preventing damage to your property from infestations and dealing with them is also part of home maintenance. Basic household maintenance is not covered by insurance.

Would an Open Perils or All Risk Insurance Policy Cover Bed Bugs?

Renter's insurance covers you for your personal property or contents up to the policy limits you selected when you purchased your policy. You could have an all-risk policy or a named perils policy.

  • In a named perils policy only the risks specified are covered. Bed Bugs are not listed.
  • In an open peril or all-risk policy, all risks that are not excluded are covered. Sounds like a pretty broad form of coverage and you might think that this would mean infestations are covered, but unfortunately, bed bugs are not covered here either due to policy exclusions.

In both the cases above, whether you have an all-risk insurance policy or a named perils policy, the infestation of bed bugs is not covered so you would not be able to make a claim for:

  • Damages caused by bed bugs
  • Removal of the bed bugs or extermination
  • Replacement of personal items destroyed by bed bugs or in the extermination process
  • Additional living expenses you might incur if your home was uninhabitable due to the bedbugs. 

Will the Landlord’s Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

Most standard commercial insurance policies also have exclusions for vermin and infestations, so your landlord’s insurance may not cover you either. However, there is always the possibility that your landlord or student housing association purchased some specialized bed bug insurance coverage, so even though it is not likely to be covered on most standard commercial policies, it is worth asking about it in case they have landlord bed bug coverage. There are always new products coming out in insurance.

Can You Hold Your Landlord Liable for Damages By Bed Bugs?

If the infestation is in your rental, it may difficult to hold anyone else responsible for your bed bug problem, yet in some states, you might be protected by law. You may also have recourse if you were in a situation where you have repeatedly made your landlord aware of a problem in a common area of the building where you can prove that:

  • They were aware of a bed bug infestation issue and it would have been their responsibility to fix the problem
  • They were neglectful
  • That this infestation has developed into a situation that impacts your ability to live in your dwelling and has created a loss for you

You can always write your landlord a letter holding them responsible and see what the response is. Even if your renter's insurance will not be able to help, you may have some legal recourse. You would need to consult a lawyer to understand if you have any legal recourse against your landlord. Having legal insurance that would provide you with professional legal advice, information on laws and could help you figure this out.

What If Someone Holds You Responsible for Bed Bug Problems?

If you receive a letter from someone else holding you responsible for bed bugs, you should never assume responsibility and should provide this to your insurance company. This may involve your personal liability. It never hurts to ask your insurance about an issue, and when it comes to liability, you have an obligation to report to your insurance company any time someone is holding you responsible for damages arising out of your ownership or rental of a property.

How to Figure out What Buildings Have Bedbugs

The Bed Bug Registry is an interesting web resource where you can find out about places that have been reported as having bedbugs. It can't identify every place bed bugs are, but it is an interesting site using crowdsourcing to put together data as a free resource. Renter's and home insurance may not cover bed bugs, but it helps to learn more and prevent bed bug damage and loss.