Having bed bugs is terrible, irrespective of whether you are a landlord of a property or a renter. In case you are renting the unit, you will feel cheated and scammed. Landlords on the other hand know that having bed bugs means loss of potential tenants. If you own a large property with several rentable units, then chances are that they would all be infested. After all; it does not take a lot of effort for bed bugs to hitchhike their way into other units. Similarly, as a renter, you ought to assume that you invariably have bed bugs in your belongings. In any case, it is a difficult situation that is going to need some serious intervention. In this guide, we will cover things covered by renters insurance as far as bed bugs are concerned.
Bed bugs in your rental units – who pays?
Suppose you have three units that you, as a landlord, are renting out. Units 1 and 3 become infested after unit 2 has gotten infested. The assumption would be that Unit 2 occupants brought the bed bugs. But unit 2 occupant could argue that the unit already had bed bugs from previous occupant since bed bugs can remain dormant for up to a year. In any case, a landlord will have a difficult time pinpointing exactly which tenant is responsible for the bugs. Because of this practical difficult in finding out who introduced the bed bugs, a landlord would end up footing the bill for the extermination in multiunit rentals.
Who pays for ruined belongings?
In most cases of serious infestations in rental units, bed bugs infest nooks and crannies of each unit. They lay hundreds of eggs and discard their exoskeletons in books, picture frames, bed springs, headboards, etc. All these items usually have to be thrown away. There is a famous case of a New York tenant and landlord involved in a messy legal battle. The tenant, it seems, moved out of his apartment literally with only the clothes on his back! He left behind each and every item that belonged to him. The tenant claimed that the landlord had not taken adequate effort to eradicate the bugs. In such a case: who pays? Many times, the matter goes to court. The solution entirely depends upon the judge. Tenants need to prove to the court that they took every step to report the problem as soon as they saw it and also took the steps for eliminating the bugs as discussed with their landlord. If they succeed in convincing the judge of having taken these steps, then they have better chances of getting what is owed to them.
Will your insurance step up for bed bug related expenses?
Any renter facing a bed bug problem would have this question on mind: Does renters insurance cover bed bugs? Here is what is typically covered:
Cost of moving temporarily
A landlord’s commercial liability policy generally covers the cost of moving temporarily. Even a renter’s policy could cover these expenses. Submit the expenses immediately to your landlord.
Medical, lost goods and damaged goods expenses
In most cases, landlord’s policy should step up here.
In case the landlord blames the infestation on the renter, the renter’s insurance policy should cover most costs. The company would treat it as any claim such as starting a fire etc. Landlords would submit bills to their renter and suggest them to refer the matter to their insurance company. Liability portion of the insurance would cover these costs.
What insurance does and doesn’t cover
Most insurance companies do not cover costs of vermin infestation eradication which includes bed bug infestation. They only cover financial costs of lost or damaged possessions that could occur due to evens like burglary, vandalism, fire etc.
Companies that do not cover bed bugs
Does Geico renters insurance cover bed bugs?
Does State Farm renters insurance cover bed bugs
Does Assurant renters insurance cover bed bugs?
Assurant’s FAQs page does not mention anything about bed bugs. It is best to call them to find out.
Companies that do cover bed bugs
Jetty renter’s insurance
This is one of the few insurance startups that cover bed bug related costs. They have a special Jetty Bedbug power up plan which is included automatically in every renters insurance plan. If a licensed pest extermination company certifies that a renter has bed bugs, the company will cut them a check of $300 to deal with it.
Willis renter’s insurance
Willis renter’s insurance covers bed bug related damages for residential and hotel real estate. They recently announced this news through this press release.
What else should tenants know?
Bed bugs are pesky and they are as much hated as cockroaches, mice and rodents are. However, apart from states of Florida and Maine, tenants in all other states are more or less on their own when it comes to handling bed bugs. If you believe your landlord hasn’t done enough to keep the rental units bug free, you can, at the most, break your lease or file a lawsuit against the landlord. In all other states other than Florida and Maine though, bed bugs are considered a tenant’s headache. Many landlords also word their lease documents carefully in that; they state that the tenant is responsible for keeping the unit clean and pest free.
Most states have laws about dealing with bed bugs in commercial properties like schools and offices. But only in Florida and Maine will you find laws mandating landlords to take steps to exterminate the bed bugs as soon as a tenant declares of having them.
How do bed bugs come in the property?
Bed bugs usually hitchhike their way into rental units. They could easily latch on to your luggage from an infested motel, bus, plane etc and multiply rapidly in your house. In most cases, landlords or residential property management is not responsible for bed bugs. And even if a landlord was in some way responsible; a tenant cannot do much and most insurance companies would not deal with it.
What can tenants do?
- As soon as you sight bed bugs, notify your landlord.
- Start cleaning your house. Vacuum thoroughly. You need to vacuum all your rooms.
- Bag all infested items and discard them.
- Freeze items like jewelry etc
- Wash all fabrics-clothing, bed sheets and linen, in very hot water. This should help you get rid of bed bug eggs.
- In extreme cases, you may call an exterminator company to eliminate bed bugs. Move to a motel until the matter is resolved.
Whether your renter’s insurance company does or doesn’t provide coverage for bed bugs; it helps to remember that fast and aggressive treatments are your best hope. Try to amicably resolve the situation by cooperating with your landlord.