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Does renters insurance cover bed bugs?
My friends recently found out their apartment had bed bugs, and it took a long time and some serious money to get rid of them. I was surprised when they told me that the extermination costs weren't covered by their renters insurance. Is it true that renters insurance doesn't cover bed bugs?
Your friends are correct — renters insurance doesn't cover bed bugs. However, there are a few state-specific exceptions that I'll explain below. The reason bed bugs aren't covered is because pest extermination is considered routine maintenance.
And because tenants are responsible for routine maintenance costs, it makes sense that you can't file a renters insurance claim for bed bugs or any damage they cause to your personal property.
Unfortunately, this means that you're almost always responsible for addressing an infestation and the related costs, including:
- Medical co-pays — if you went to the doctor to diagnose the bed bug bites or bought medication to treat the bites
- Bagging personal belongings to contain the bed bugs and prevent their spread
- Purchasing new property such as a mattress
- Staying at a hotel or other location while your apartment or home is exterminated
Aren't landlords responsible for bed bug extermination?
When tenants find out bed bugs aren't covered under renters insurance, they don't think it matters because it's their landlord's problem and not theirs. This isn't true.
As a general rule, landlords aren't responsible for bed bugs when they're discovered in just one unit. This is because it is the tenant's responsibility to handle routine maintenance such as pest control.
That being said, there are limited situations where landlords may be responsible for bed bugs. One simple example is where bed bugs aren't found in just one unit but are instead found in a common area.
If the landlord didn't address the problem and they spread to units, then the landlord would likely be on the hook for extermination and related costs. It's important to note that even in this scenario, you aren't going to file a renters insurance claim for your problem.
You'll probably still have to pay for an exterminator and handle the problem and then go after your landlord for reimbursement. If they won't reimburse you, you'll have to file a lawsuit.
Are there any exceptions to landlord bed bug responsibility?
There are state-specific exceptions to landlord bed bug responsibility. For example, Florida and Maine legally require that landlords exterminate bed bugs if they're notified of the problem. If they're notified and they still fail to fix it, tenants can do things like withhold rent, break their leases, or bring a lawsuit for damages.
Some cities also have bed bug rules of their own. For example, New York City requires that landlords fix any bed bug infestations within 30 days of being told about the problem. You may live in a city that requires something similar even if your state hasn't taken official action.
Are any pests covered by renters insurance?
Unfortunately, the answer here is also no. All pests, whether they're rodents, roaches, or bed bugs, are treated the same under renters insurance policies. This means all of the rules I talked about above apply no matter what kind of infestation you're facing.
It's important to remember that while pests aren't covered by renters insurance, it's still important to have a good policy in place for other covered losses. If you aren't sure how much coverage you need or what policy is right for you, your independent agent can help.