Does Renters Insurance Cover Bedbugs?

You bought renters insurance to protect you against life’s what-ifs. So if you wake up with a row of small bites, you might be wondering: Does renters insurance cover bedbugs?

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Bad news. In most cases, you can’t get renters insurance to cover bedbugs. You’ll be on the hook for paying for extermination or the other treatment of your choice — provided you can’t prove your landlord is responsible for the situation. 

(This doesn’t mean you should drop your renters policy. It still covers you against a whole bunch of risks.) 

Long story short, renters insurance bedbugs coverage is pretty much nonexistent. Let’s find out why.

[ Read: Is Renters Insurance Worth it?]

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Does renters insurance cover bedbugs? 


But your renters policy is supposed to protect you against unexpected disasters, so why doesn’t renters insurance cover bedbugs? 

Your renters insurance safeguards you against sudden, unavoidable disasters. Bedbugs disqualify you for coverage in two ways. First, insurers don’t see them as a sudden peril. Secondly, they’re generally seen as avoidable. In fact, most insurers will argue preventing and dealing with bedbugs is a maintenance issue. 

Beyond that, most renters policies — both cheap and pricy renters policies — specifically exclude bedbug coverage. Even all-perils policies usually list bedbugs as a policy exclusion. (The same is generally true for home insurance policies, too.) 

Some companies offer renters insurance bedbugs endorsements, meaning you could add bedbug coverage to your policy. But these endorsements are increasingly hard to find. And as far as insurance policies designed specifically for bedbugs, those are usually reserved for landlords and business owners (e.g., hotel owners). You’ll probably have a pretty hard time finding renters insurance with bedbugs coverage. 

[ Read: The Best Renters Insurance of 2021 ]

Is my landlord supposed to take care of bedbugs? 

Does renters insurance cover bedbugs? No. But does that mean you definitely need to pay out-of-pocket to deal with them? Not necessarily. In some cases, the infestation is your landlord’s responsibility. 

Legal rights as a tenant 

In most states, landlords have to provide their tenants with a safe, habitable living space. If you can prove that the bedbugs are your landlord’s fault — not yours — you have a leg to stand on here.

It’s easiest to lean on your legal rights as a tenant to have your landlord handle the infestation in two cases:

  • You just moved in and found bedbugs. In this case, you can probably prove that the bedbugs were there before you.
  • You live in a multi-unit property and multiple units have bedbugs. If the bedbugs can’t be traced back to you or another tenant at the property, your landlord will have to deal with them. 

Bedbug laws 

In some states, landlords are legally required to get rid of bedbugs at their property. In Arizona, California and other states, for example, a landlord can’t knowingly rent a unit that has bedbugs. In Florida, landlords are explicitly required to exterminate bedbugs any time they show up on their property.

Ultimately, bedbug laws vary from state to state. But that doesn’t mean you have to delve into your state’s statutes and codes to find out if your landlord is on the hook. The EPA has a handy, alphabetically organized spreadsheet summarizing all bedbug laws in each state, as of September 2019. 

[ Read: How Much Renters Insurance Do I Need?

How do I prevent bedbugs? 

Since you know you’re lacking renters insurance bedbugs coverage, you want to avoid this infestation, for sure. Steering clear of bedbugs comes down to checking items before you bring them into your house. 

After travel

If you travel somewhere you suspect had bedbugs, launder any clothes you’re wearing and shower right away. Then, leave your suitcases outside until you can launder everything in them (on hot) and vacuum them out thoroughly. Make sure you hit any seams with extra care. 

After buying second-hand 

If you thrift for furniture or clothing items, check anything you bring home really well before you bring it inside. 

Tips at home

Additionally, you can do a few things around the house to make it harder for bedbugs to thrive there:

  • Clear out clutter around your bed so these bugs don’t have a place to hide
  • Vacuum regularly around your bed
  • Put your mattress inside a protective cover (bedbugs love hiding in mattress seams)

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How do I get rid of bedbugs? 

You have a few options you can explore to nix those pesky pests:

Hire an exterminator

Your best bet for ditching bedbugs is to bring in a pro. Costs to treat your bedbug infestation can vary based on the extent of your infestation and the treatment you choose, but you’re probably looking at somewhere between $500 and $1,500. 

Launder what you can — and seal up what you can’t

Run all your clothes through the laundry on a hot cycle for both the washer and dryer. Do the same with your bedding and literally anything else you can launder, including bedskirts, drapes, towels, rugs and stuffed animals. 

If something can’t go through the wash, double bag it in a trash bag and be prepared to stash it for a while. Bedbugs can live for months without feeding. 

Vacuum, then empty your vacuum carefully

Vacuum the crevices of your mattresses and furniture. Vacuum all of your floors, focusing particularly on the areas around the legs of your bed, too. 

Immediately after finishing vacuuming, take the vacuum outside. Dump the contents into a trash bag and seal it. Place that bag in an outside trash — don’t bring it inside or you risk undoing all of your progress. 

[ Read: How to Buy Cheap Renters Insurance Online ]

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How Does Renters Insurance Work?

If you want to know how renters insurance works, you’re in luck. Renters insurance is not only one of the most straightforward types of insurance to purchase, but it’s also quite affordable. Renters insurance protects you in a wide variety of circumstances, from coverage if your laptop is stolen out of your car, to medical payments for your friend who manages to fall and hurt themselves in your kitchen. 

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While renters insurance is generally clear-cut, there are basics you should understand as you begin shopping for premiums. And knowing what isn’t covered by renters insurance is as important as knowing what is.

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Do I need renters insurance? 

Obtaining a renters insurance policy makes sound financial sense. Yet an alarming number of renters choose not to obtain one. It could be because there is confusion surrounding the need for a policy. Renters commonly assume landlord’s insurance covers property damage, but this is false. Landlord’s insurance only covers the physical structure of the property, whereas renters insurance covers all the belongings located inside and personal liability.

Many landlords require you to carry renters insurance, but even if they don’t require it, the coverage is not very expensive. For an average cost of $180 per year, your belongings are covered if there’s damage from a wide variety of events. Your belongings can be replaced and your property repaired with help from a policy, not to mention the liability protection a policy provides. 

If you have any items worth protecting, or have pets and visitors, then a renters policy is worth the investment for your financial protection.

What does renters insurance cover? 

Renters insurance covers costs associated with property damage as a result of natural disasters, theft, riots and other specified events. This includes coverage for your personal property too. But the policy goes further and also provides personal liability and medical payments in case someone is hurt inside your rental or as a result of an accident you caused. 

Another essential coverage category is the additional living expense (ALE) or loss-of-use. This coverage kicks in if you have to vacate your rental due to damage such as water or fire damage. It provides reimbursement if you have to live elsewhere and incur expenses for hotel bills, temporary rentals, meals and other living expenses. 

Renters insurance provides coverage for several major categories, but there are a few more areas a policy provides greater protection.

  • Credit cards and forgery: Most policies include protection if your debit or credit card were stolen or you’re a victim of fraud (including identity theft).
  • Food spoilage: If your refrigerator dies, the power is out or you’re forced out of your rental due to damage, your policy reimburses you for food lost.
  • Replacement value: Another option with renters insurance is choosing Replacement Value (RV) versus Actual Cost Value (ACV). When an item is damaged in your rental due to a covered event and it needs to be replaced, the renters insurance claim payout would either be RV or ACV. If you choose RV, you receive more of a payout, but your premiums are more expensive.
  • Personal belongings located elsewhere: If you have personal property located off-premise, it’s still covered by property damage. For instance, if your mountain bike is stored in a storage unit and it’s damaged, it’s covered.

[Read: Does Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?]

What renters insurance doesn’t cover 

There are situations when renters insurance does not provide coverage — and you don’t want to be caught assuming you’re covered. The good news is, even if something is excluded, there are typically policy add-ons available to make your policy more comprehensive.

  • Natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes: Although most policies cover a long list of natural disasters, floods, earthquakes,hurricanes and sinkholes are excluded. If you live in an area where these excluded disasters occur, talk to your agent about adding the coverage to your policy.
  • Pest damage: If your rental is damaged by bed bugs, termites, rodents or any other creepy crawling insects, your policy does not cover this. However, many insurance carriers offer optional protection against bed bugs and other critters.
  • Your roommates: A rental insurance policy only provides coverage for the person whose name is on the policy. This often excludes roommates, unless you sign a join-renters insurance policy together.
  • Your high-value items: Any items worth a certain amount, usually $1,500 or higher, are considered high-value. You need additional coverage added, otherwise the item is excluded. This applies to items such as jewelry, antiques, equipment and electronics.
  • Damage from pets: Damage from your cats and dogs inside your rental is not covered. For instance, if your furbaby chews through the walls of your rental then you’re responsible for the damage. However, if this same furbaby bites your neighbor, any necessary medical treatment would be covered by your policy.

[Read: Defending Against Porch Pirates: What to Do about Package Thefts]

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What to look out for when shopping for renters insurance 

Like other insurance products, there are specific items you should look for to ensure you’re getting the best policy for your financial situation. For starters, confirm the limits of the renters insurance payouts. Each category has different payout limits, which is the maximum amount paid for a claim. Make sure these limits aren’t too low or too high, and provide the right amount of coverage. 

The liability coverage should provide enough protection to equal your net worth. Your net worth is the value of your assets — such as retirement accounts, savings, cars you own free and clear  —  minus your debt. So if your net worth is $300,000, then your liability coverage should be at least this amount. The reason is to protect you in case of a lawsuit from an at-fault accident. If your net worth is higher than $300,000, the Insurance Information Institute recommends obtaining an additional liability policy.

Your property damage limit should be high enough to cover replacement of your belongings.

Comparison shopping is a smart tactic to make sure you get the coverage you need. Comparing renters insurance policies not only gives you the most competitive cost on your policy, but your agent can guide you to get the most comprehensive coverage.

[Read: 3 Reasons Why You Should Get Flood Insurance] 

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