Does Home Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?

Few things are worse than infestations, even fewer things are worse than infestations in our bed or  furniture. If you’re unlucky enough to have discovered bed bugs or evidence of bed bugs in your living quarters, you may be wondering whether you can get your homeowners insurance to pay for the extermination, or perhaps to cover furniture replacement. Unfortunately, your homeowners insurance is extremely unlikely to cover bed bug extermination or the replacement of infested furniture. This isn’t due to the bed bugs themselves, but rather due to homeowners insurance not covering infestations in general.

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Infestations Are Not Considered a Covered Peril on Most Policies

Insurances generally distinguish between two different categories of destructive events: covered perils, and uncovered perils. A peril is any event that can cause damage to your property. With a covered peril, your insurance will usually cover some or all of the costs associated with the peril. While specifics vary from policy to policy, common perils covered include things like house fires, vandalism, or damage from hail or lightning strikes.

Uncovered perils, on the other hand, are situations that your insurance will typically not cover. These include things like floods, sewage backup, and damage due to earth movements such as earthquakes or mudslides. Typically, an uncovered peril either causes widespread destruction which would be likely to bankrupt an insurance, or is uncovered due to the peril being preventable if the house is properly maintained.

Bed Bug Infestations Are Considered Preventable with Proper Maintenance

As far as your insurance is concerned, if your furniture is infested with bed bugs, it is because you were negligent in some fashion. The homeowner is expected to maintain their home, which is why you’ll often find things like wear and tear to be considered an uncovered peril on most policies. It is possible for there to be exceptions, but these are very rare.

If the Infestation Isn’t a Proximate Cause, It May Be Covered

Occasionally, it will be the case that there are multiple perils that have caused damage to your home at the same time. A proximate cause is defined as the event that is can be considered the ultimate cause of another event. If an uncovered peril is the result of a proximate cause, but the proximate cause is a covered peril, then your insurance may cover costs related to the uncovered peril, as part of the costs of attending to the covered peril.

For example, suppose a thief were to break into your home, steal items, and left behind bed bugs on the bed or in the furniture in the area where they had stolen your personal property. Since theft is a commonly covered peril, if sufficient proof can be shown that the bed bugs are a result of the thief bringing them into your home, then the costs associated with exterminating the bed bugs or replacing the infested furniture might be covered by the insurance, as part of covering the cost of the theft. This example may seem contrived, but it illustrates the important point that you need to consider the entire situation of the infestation in order to figure out if you can be compensated by your homeowners insurance.

Tips to Prevent Bed Bug Infestations in the First Place

Since it’s unlikely that you’ll get a bed bug infestation outside of negligence, it’s important to be proactive in trying to prevent infestations. The best thing you can do is to keep on the lookout for signs of bed bugs. Common signs of bed bugs on your bed or furniture include finding bed bug feces, discarded bed bug shell casings, and bed bug eggs. There are also secondary signs, such as blood stains on your bed, bite marks on your body, or bad odors coming from your furniture. These can be easy to miss if you aren’t vigilant.

Another tip is to keep your bedding clean and to make sure your mattresses and box springs are covered. If you receive any second-hand furniture, you should thoroughly inspect it and make sure it is free of bed bugs before bringing it into your home. Reducing clutter is also a good way to cut down on infestations in general. The moment you do notice bed bugs, you should get in contact with an exterminator as soon as possible so you can limit its spread and damage to your property.

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