Bed bugs are often associated with travel and hotel rooms, but your home is hardly a safe haven from the dreaded pests in fact, pest control professionals find bed bugs more often in single family homes, apartments and condominiums than in hotels and motels, according to the most recent Bugs Without Borders survey by the National Pest Management Association.
Summer is the busiest season for bed bugs. More than half of pest control professionals say they get the most bed bug complaints during the warmer months. This is partially due to increased travel, which can help spread bugs from vacation destinations to homes, or college students returning home on summer break.
And if you don’t already have the heebie-jeebies, here’s more icky news: a standard renters insurance policy does not cover bed bugs. But you may have other options.
Examining the Bed Bug
Bed bugs are small oval shaped insects that are about 1/4-inch long and red-brown in color. They have six legs and two antennae, but they do not have wings and cannot fly. Bed bugs are “hitchhikers” that latch onto suitcases, clothes and linens, which can cause infestations to spread.
They are visible to the naked eye and can be identified by small reddish-brown fecal spots on mattresses, walls and upholstery. You can identify infestations when you find molt skins and empty eggshells, which appear pale white after molting.
Bed bugs primarily feed on humans and other warm-blooded animals. Their bites are painless and most people will not wake up when bitten. While bed bugs do not transmit disease, the bites will often result in red, itchy welts.
The biggest problem with bed bugs is how fast they spread. Females can lay one to five eggs per day and 541 eggs in their lifetime. Nymphs become adult bed bugs in about 21 days. If a bed bug population goes undetected, an entire household or building can quickly become infested. Bed bugs are difficult to get rid of and usually require professional treatment.
Why Doesn’t Renters Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?
A standard renters insurance policy does not cover rodent or insect infestations, including bed bugs. That’s because renters insurance is designed to cover sudden, unexpected losses, like fire or tornado damage. Pest extermination is usually considered routine maintenance.
If your apartment is infested with bed bugs, standard renters insurance will not cover expenses such as:
- Medical expenses for bed bug bites
- Buying a new mattress or bedding
- Staying at a hotel while your home is exterminated
Renters Insurance Options for Bed Bugs
Some insurance companies offer an endorsement for bed bug remediation costs. An endorsement is also known as a “rider” and it’s an add-on policy.
A bed bug endorsement can provide some help, if your insurer offers one. The endorsement can pay to:
- Remediate the bed bug infestation at the residence
- Seal off and treat units adjacent to the infected unit in order to prevent further infestation
- Dispose of infested property
- Clean and sanitize the residence
- Clean or replace the belongings of the policyholder that were in the infected residence
- Confirm the elimination of the bed bugs.
Is My Landlord Responsible for Bed Bug Extermination and Other Expenses?
A landlord’s responsibility for bed bugs depends on where you live. In some states, landlords are not responsible for bed bugs if they are found in just one unit. That’s because tenants are responsible for routine maintenance of their unit, including pest control.
In other places, such as Florida, Maine and New York City, a landlord is required to exterminate bed bugs if they’re found in your apartment.
Here are some tips from the EPA to help prevent bed bug infestations:
- Check secondhand furniture such as beds and couches for signs of infestations before bringing them into your home.
- Use a light color protective cover that encases your mattress and box springs. The light color makes bed bugs easier to see.
- Reduce clutter at home to cut down on bed bug hiding spaces.
- Vacuum often to remove bed bug “hitchhikers.”
- If you use shared laundry facilities, transport items in plastic bags. Remove clothes from the dryer directly into the bag and fold at home (a dryer on high heat can kill bed bugs). If you have an active infestation, use a new bag for the trip home.
- If you live in a multi-unit home, take steps to prevent bugs from moving in from other units such as installing door sweeps and sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards and light sockets.
- When traveling, check bedding for signs of bed bugs and use luggage racks to keep your luggage off the floor. Inspect your luggage when you return home and do not store your luggage under your bed.
If you discover bed bugs in your home, consult with a pest management professional. Bed bugs breed rapidly and it can be very difficult to get rid of an infestation on your own.
Article By: Jason Metz
Source: Forbes Advisor