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Ridding your home of bedbugs can cost anywhere from $300 to $5,000, depending on the size of your space and the severity of the infestation, according to HomeAdvisor — and most tenants can’t count on their renters insurance to help with these costs.
Does renters insurance cover bedbugs?
Generally, the answer is no: Most renters insurance doesn't cover bedbugs (with a couple of exceptions).
That's because renters insurance is designed to cover sudden, unexpected disasters such as a fire or hurricane. Dealing with infestations of bedbugs, mice or other vermin is considered part of home maintenance, and therefore isn’t covered by most policies.
Even though you may not consider it a maintenance cost, most renters insurance also won’t pay to replace an infested mattress that can’t be salvaged or cover any additional living expenses if you need to move elsewhere during extermination.
If you do want bedbug coverage, you have a couple of options. Jetty offers coverage not typically found in other standard policies, which it calls the “Bedbugs Power-Up.” Included in all its renters policies, this coverage will pay $300 toward the costs of getting rid of bedbugs. However, Jetty insurance is only available to those living in select partner properties. Ask your landlord if it’s an option.
In select states, Assurant includes coverage in its renters policies for extermination and other bedbug-related costs.
The few other bedbug insurance policies available are mostly for landlords and property managers rather than for tenants.
Is your landlord responsible for getting rid of bedbugs?
In many cases, yes, especially if you live in a multi-unit building. But it depends on your location and the circumstances of your infestation. Your first step is to check your lease, which might specify whose responsibility it is to remove bugs.
For example, if you’re living in a multi-family rental with assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, your lease likely holds the landlord responsible for extermination unless your negligence caused the infestation.
Your rights as a tenant
In all states but Arkansas, tenants have certain rights under the legal concept of the “implied warranty of habitability.” That means your landlord must provide a basic standard of housing that includes heat, structurally sound walls and floors, safe drinking water — and no vermin.
However, this doesn’t guarantee that your landlord will pay to get rid of your bedbugs. If there’s a clear argument that you introduced the pests yourself, you may be on the hook for the extermination bill.
For example, say you’ve lived in a single-family rental house for a year or two, but the bedbugs didn’t show up until you returned from a recent overseas vacation. Odds are, you were the one to bring the bugs into your home, and you’ll have to pay to get rid of them.
But what if you live in an apartment building where several neighboring units are affected by bedbugs? In such cases, it can be more difficult to pin down blame for the infestation, and there’s a better chance of the landlord paying out.
State bedbug laws
Some parts of the country have passed specific bedbug regulations. In Colorado, for instance, the landlord must pay for extermination, though tenants are responsible for relocation costs and the replacement of their own personal belongings. Florida law requires the landlord to get rid of bedbugs and other pests in any rental unit other than a single-family home or duplex.
Check your state and city laws to determine whether your landlord is obligated to foot the extermination bill.
Where such laws apply, tenants are generally responsible for reporting the infestation to their landlord in a timely fashion and cooperating with the needs of the exterminator (for example, cleaning up clutter or leaving the building while treatment is going on). In turn, the landlord typically must respond to a bedbug report within a few days and give one to two days’ notice before the exterminator arrives.
If you and your landlord can’t agree on who should pay for the extermination, or if your landlord refuses to assist with the problem at all, you may need to consult a lawyer.
How to get rid of bedbugs
In addition to hiring an exterminator, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends the following tactics to help rid your home of bedbugs:
Vacuum thoroughly, then empty the vacuum cleaner bag or canister, tightly seal its contents and dispose of them in an outdoor container.
Move your bed away from the wall and make sure bedding doesn’t touch the floor.
Clean up clutter and seal cracks in walls to eliminate bugs’ hiding places.
Encase your mattress and boxspring in a bedbug-proof cover.
Seal infested items in plastic bags, then empty them into the dryer and run at high heat for at least 30 minutes.
Put bedbug interceptors under the legs of beds and other furniture.
Use detergent to clean mattress seams and folds.