Are bed bugs covered on a renters insurance policy? The answer is no. The list of covered perils can be found in our post What Does Renters Insurance Cover: Personal Property. Nowhere on that list are creatures, critters, or any other sort of uninvited guest that has overstayed their welcome in your home.
Are bed bugs covered on a renters insurance policy? There is actually an exclusion specifically for this situation because it was never intended to be covered. “Infestation, vermin, and unwelcome in-laws” are excluded on most policies. We jest about the in-laws, of course, but infestation and vermin are definitely outside the scope of what’s covered on your renters insurance.
Why Are Bed Bugs Excluded On Renters Insurance?
There’s a simple explanation to the question, “Are bed bugs covered on a renters insurance policy?” Insurance is designed to return you to the financial position you were in before a sudden, unexpected, and catastrophic loss. Bed bugs are perhaps unexpected but neither sudden nor catastrophic. The policy language reflects accordingly to exclude the coverage.
You Have a Duty to Mitigate
In simple terms, this means that you must immediately take all reasonable steps to prevent further losses once they become known and minimize damages. For example, let’s say during a storm, the wind blows a tree branch through your window, but you do nothing to repair the window. After three days it rains again and causes water damage to the windowsill and floor. The damage to the window and the floor are not covered losses because you did not take reasonable steps (repairing or covering the window) to reduce the risk of further damage. The same is true of bed bugs–if you do nothing to treat and remove the infestation, you will have no coverage for the damage caused by it.
The Key Is Reasonable Steps
We recall an apartment community in Hyattsville, MD that was hit by a sudden and rather odd windstorm of a type generally not seen in the area. In this instance, the storm literally blew the roof off of several apartment buildings. Tenants on the upper floors didn’t have many options to mitigate this type of damage.
Placing plastic wrap over furniture to keep it dry was not practical. The wind that had blown the roof off of the building wouldn’t have let the plastic stay in place for more than a microsecond. The tenants obviously didn’t own the building and didn’t have a responsibility to get a roofer out there quickly. The most practical mitigation was for the residents to be moved to other apartments in the community and protect their personal property that way.
Every policy has a limit. Even if you didn’t have a duty to mitigate (which you do), your policy still has a limit on the damages it will cover. Damages in excess of that limit are your responsibility to cover. It makes good sense to do what you reasonably can to prevent further damage without putting yourself in danger.
Why Does it Matter Whether Bed Bugs Are Covered on a Renters Insurance Policy?
It matters because you need to know your role in the process. The moment you realize you have an infestation, whether it be mice or bed bugs, it’s your responsibility to stop it. Bed bugs can be notoriously difficult to remove, and can also survive for up to a year without feeding. Call for the exterminator immediately, treat or burn all infected clothing, furniture and anywhere the infestation may have spread to.
Whether there is coverage or not, you have a duty to stop the damage. If you stop the damage, there really is no significant damage on which to make a claim. Renters Insurance covers many things, but bed bugs are not among them.