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Does Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

By Jarrod Heil

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One of the worst things you can experience upon moving into a new rental unit is a sudden urge to itch your legs, arms and hard-to-reach places on your back while lying in bed or sitting on the couch. Those urges to itch are likely caused by bed bugs or fleas.

We’re going to be talking about the former uncomfortable feeling: bed bugs. If you’ve just moved into your new place and you think the new home may be infested with bed bugs, you’ve certainly got some options.

But whose responsibility is it to remove these vermins from the property, and can you count on renters insurance to take care of the infestation? Let’s dive into everything you need to know about bed bugs in your rental home.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

No, your renters insurance policy doesn’t provide coverage for bed bug infestation of any kind, including the removal of bed bugs or replacing all the furniture and clothes in the rental property that bed bugs have infested.

Renters insurance is designed to cover sudden and unexpected perils. And while the presence of bed bugs could be sudden and unexpected to you when moving into your new place, that doesn’t mean bed bug infestation was all that sudden and unexpected to the previous tenants — or your new landlord.

The good thing is that the removal of bed bugs caused by a previous tenant isn’t one of the items on your tenant responsibilities list. The bad thing is that it may be tough to prove there were bed bugs in the rental unit prior to your move-in date.

Let’s take a look at who may be ultimately responsible for the removal of bed bugs and what you can do to remove or prevent them in the future.

Is My Landlord Responsible for Removing Bed Bugs?

If you weren’t the one who brought the bed bugs into the new home, your landlord may be responsible to pay for bed bug removal. This holds especially true if the previous tenant is confirmed to have brought them in or if you live in a multi-family unit that’s owned by the same landlord.

However, it truly depends on the circumstances. For those living in multi-family units, the U.S. Department of Urban Development has stipulations that likely hold your landlord responsible to remove the bed bugs. But you’ll want to read over your lease with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there’s no language in it deferring liability to you.

Under the “applied warranty of habitability” laws for tenant rights, you have certain legal rights when living in a rental property. Those rights typically extend to having safe drinking water, adequate air conditioning and heat, a structurally sound unit and no vermin — including bed bugs.

However, that last tidbit only applies to tenants living in multi-family units or when they first move into a single-family home. If you’ve lived in a single-family home for a while and notice bed bugs months into your lease, it’s going to be tough to prove you or a friend didn’t introduce them into your home.

It’s best to check your state laws regarding bed bug removal and extermination because laws differ greatly from state to state.

For instance, renters in Florida and Colorado may be in luck. State laws require landlords to pay for the extermination of bed bugs and other pests if they’re found in a multi-family home, not including a duplex in certain instances.

But the laws also state the tenant is responsible for replacing their personal belongings that were infested or finding another place to live while they’re being exterminated.

Can I Get Bed Bug Insurance?

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as bed bug insurance — so don’t let that used mattress dealer tell you otherwise. Although some very specific renters insurance policies may have stipulations in the language that cover vermin, such as mice and bed bugs, purchasing this coverage typically comes at a pretty hefty price.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Getting rid of bed bugs in sheets, clothes and couch cushions is assuredly easier than getting rid of bed bugs trapped in your mattress. Unfortunately, you may need to throw out your mattress and purchase a new one while you’re removing the bed bugs to ensure they don’t infest your home again.

1. Clean all bedding, curtains and clothes in hot water and dry them on the hottest dryer setting (it’s wise to do this two or three times in a row before putting them back).

2. If the couch cushions are infested, put them in a plastic bag, call your local dry cleaner and see if they have a cleaning process in place to get rid of them.

3. Scrub your floors and any other fabric areas they’re living, including your bed and carpets, and Vacuum everything thoroughly a few times.

4. If you don’t want to replace your mattress, enclose it in an air-tight zippered case (bed bugs can live up to a year in those cases, though).

5. Invest in bed bug interceptors and put them around your bed and other fabric areas inside your home.

Get a Quote Compare multiple policies to get the coverage you need at the price you want.

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