Is that right? Bed bug fixes not covered by insurance?
When I blogged last Friday about bed bug infestations and how hard it is to safely combat the little critters, a reader offered this comment (to read it in full, click the link to the blog and scroll down to the fifth comment):
Did you know that bed bug infestations are NOT covered by ANY property insurance; Renters, Homeowners, etc. The cost of treating bed bugs and the resulting loss of furnishings, clothing, rugs, etc., plus hotel time, is akin to a fire. Renters, who are much more at risk and have much higher incidence of bed bugs, are generally least able to properly afford extermination and replacement of item, thus, their apartments are not properly cleaned thus causing more infestations throughout the properties.
I beg each and every reader here to contact your state senate rep and state delegate, asking them to pressure the State Bureau of Insurance to require Insurers practicing in the state to offer a bed bug supplemental for renters as well as homeowners.
I thought that bore checking out.
But someone beat me to the punch. Consumer Reports devoted a September 8 blog entry to this matter. In short, CR confirmed that homeowners policies do not typically cover such situations as bed-bug infestations or the often expensive cleanup they require. The blog conveniently included a link to the Insurance Information Institute's explanation of what homeowners' insurance does cover.
I followed up with the Institute; Vice President Loretta Worters told me that bed bug infestations, whether they occur in homes, rentals or businesses, are -- like infestations of roaches or vermin -- considered matters of maintenance and are thus not covered by insurance. She knows of no insurance companies that are considering offering supplemental policies to cover bed bugs, either. (She reported this in all good cheer, even as she told me that her own apartment had been infested by bed bugs and that it was "very costly" to get rid of them.) But she did send me links suggesting that legislation requiring insurers to cover bed-bug infestations could be in the offing; there's a bill before the New York state assembly calling for a tax reimbursement to cover property damage inflicted by bed bugs.
New York City recently passed a new law requiring landlords to tell potential tenants whether there have been bed-bug infestations in their building during the past year.
What do you make of all this? Should bed-bug-related costs be covered by insurance? Or should folks just bite the bullet when it comes to bed-bug damage?
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