One of the more common coverage questions we receive has to do with whether infestations are covered.
While we’ll use a Baltimore Renters Insurance policy as an example, the same answer will hold true almost anywhere.
That’s because the “Broad Form” that’s usually used to write renters insurance is very similar in many respects across state lines.
Find out whether infestations of bed bugs, rats, or anything else are covered on renters insurance right below our Video Guide To Maryland Renters Insurance!
How Do You Answer A Coverage Question About Infestations And Renters Insurance?
That’s easy. You look to the policy form. While the declarations page will give you the amount of coverage available for a general type of coverage, it doesn’t give you specifics of what’s covered – only general categories. For specifics of coverage for infestations and other risks, you’ll want to look to the policy form.
The policy form is the actual contract between you and the insurance company that governs exactly what is and is not covered, as well as the exclusions and circumstances surrounding a loss that might impact coverage. You’ll also find information concerning the rights and responsibilities of both the insurance company and the insured.
Where Do I Even Start Reading The Policy To Find Out About Infestations?
You’ll see a list of renters insurance covered perils (things that can cause loss). Read that list – skim the headings first, if you prefer. That list tells you what’s covered, and each goes into detail. That list is what determines the causes of loss that would cause a property claim to be paid. Nowhere in that list are insects, vermin, infestation, or anything of the sort.
Why aren’t bed bugs or rats covered on renters insurance?
We can find the rationale elsewhere in the policy, in the specifics of “collapse”. We’ll quote the policy here, and then we’ll translate it below.
[we cover] insect or vermin damage that is hidden from view, unless the presence of such damage is known to an “insured” prior to collapse
The only coverage for insects would be for damages that were concealed from view and led to the collapse of the building. That’s tied to a specific peril, or cause of loss. It’s also tied to a specific situation, where you could not have known about the damage because it was concealed. Find out more below!
Why Aren’t Infestations Of Bed Bugs Or Rats Covered On Renters Insurance?
There are several reasons for this. With a renters insurance policy, you’re primarily concerned about damage to your personal property and loss of use of the apartment, as well as for liability losses.
Damages Unlikely To Be Concealed
The damages from bed bugs or rats, or most other types of infestations, are unlikely to be concealed. That means you can identify it and stop it in what amounts to real time. You have a duty to mitigate your losses by preventing them from getting worse. If you don’t take action to stop the infestation (that action may simply be calling your landlord), there would not be coverage for damage after the point where you reasonably should have done so.
Rats chew large holes in things, and they often have very little fear. That’s not a concealed damage, and therefore there’s no coverage. Bed bugs are never concealed, you’ll know for sure that you have them. Further, the damage that a bed bug infestation does are mostly limited to biting you. You are not an item of “covered property” under your renters insurance policy.
Known To An Insured
Any infestation of bed bugs, rats, or most other vermin is likely to be known to an insured immediately. If you see a mouse run across your kitchen, you know for certain that he’s not the only one. You know there are more, and that you need to take steps to deal with the infestation. The same goes for rats. In addition, you’d likely hear them in the walls and know they’re there that way.
A bed bug infestation is definitely going to be known to the insured.
Neglect Excludes Coverage
Generally, neglect excludes coverage on a Baltimore Renters Insurance policy for any type of loss. That could be your neglect in not taking action when you first discovered the problem. But neglect comes in many forms. If you try to deal with the infestation by using some herbal concoction to “avoid all those harsh chemicals that exterminations use,” that’s neglect.
You’re expected to use whatever the standard of care would be – in this case, getting your landlord to call the proper professional to remove the infestation. Who pays for it would be an open question because it’s specific to your state, the language of your lease, and a number of other factors, but your landlord should make the call. Your landlord can’t do that until you notify them of the problem!
Generally, Infestation Is The Landlord’s Problem
As a tenant, it’s probably not appropriate for you to call an exterminator or other professional. You’d notify the landlord, who would take care of choosing the vendor and making the call. In some cases, the service to resolve the infestation may be at your own expense, of course, but it’s the landlord’s call to make.
You might be responsible for the cost if your lifestyle clearly drew rats, for instance. You might well be responsible for bed bug costs if yours is the only apartment that has them. Tell the landlord – he’ll want to move quickly because they spread widely in apartment buildings and are notoriously difficult to get rid of completely.
So If Renters Insurance Doesn’t Cover Infestations, What Does It Cover?
There’s no coverage for rats, bed bugs, or infestations, but there are plenty of things that renters insurance does cover. These are the significant risks that cause damage well beyond what an individual could reasonably handle on their own. Fire losses are covered. Theft losses are covered. Relocation can be covered if the wind blows the roof off your building (As happened just down the road in Hyattsville a few summers back!) There are a wide variety of things that renters insurance protects you from, and the best part is that you can afford it!
The national average price of renters insurance is just $187.00, according to the III. That works out to as little as fifteen dollars per month. The vast majority of families can budget renters insurance easily at those prices.
Additionally, it's important to note that renters are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing loss than homeowners. Renters occupy roughly one third of total housing stock in the country, and yet they are fully fifty percent more likely to experience theft than homeowners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
It only costs a few dollars a month to protect your family, and this cheap renters insurance is a great way to mitigate the additional risks that come with being a renter.
To find out how affordable renters insurance can be, or to get covered in a mere sixty seconds, just call (800)892-4308 or click to get covered - whether you need Baltimore renters insurance quotes online or coverage anywhere else!
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