does my insurance policy cover bed bugs?

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Itching, scratching, and the associated costs — bed bugs are a particularly fear-inducing infestation.

bed bugs and your policy

It may be but a small comfort, but if you're suffering a bed bug infestation, you're not alone. About 20 percent of Americans have had a bed bug problem in their home or at least know someone who has encountered them, according to a survey by the National Pest Management Association.

Regardless of the ick factor, buying new linens and hiring a professional exterminator (not to mention doing several loads of laundry) can take a toll on anyone's wallet.

But while your renters or homeowners policy can pay for a vast array of property losses, it doesn't cover some of those stemming from or resulting in a maintenance issue. And unfortunately, the costs associated with ridding your home of bed bugs is considered part of standard home maintenance and isn't covered by either type of insurance.

signs of bed bugs

While your insurance policy won't cover bed bugs, we can at least offer you pointers on getting rid of them.

First though, it's a good idea to make sure that the problem you're facing is bed bugs and not another type of infestation.

Bed bug bites can masquerade as regular bug bites, which can make them hard to identify, but here are some tell-tale signs:

  • You rarely get a single bite. It's much more common to see a cluster of 3 to 5 bites or even a few of them in a jagged line.
  • The bites are red, typically with a darker spot in the center.
  • They can appear all over your body, not just one area. Unlike mosquitoes or other insects, bed bugs feed on sleeping people, so it's easy for them to cover a lot of ground.

bed bug symptoms

Bed bugs are good at hiding out in sleeping areas and leaving clues behind. Fortunately, there are ways to tell if you've got bed bugs at home, like these bits of evidence:

  • Blackish specks: We're sorry to tell you, but those tiny black specks? Bed bug excrement.
  • Exoskeleton: Bed bugs shed after molting, so you could find exoskeletons in your bed or the surrounding area.
  • Specks of blood: Spots of blood in the folds of your sheet or on nearby furniture.

Of course, you might also see bed bugs in the flesh (uh, shell? Close enough), though they tend to scurry away to seek cover in the dark.

how do i get rid of bed bugs?

If you're a renter, keep in mind that some states have specific laws about landlord and tenant responsibilities when it comes to bed bugs. But generally, it's wise to tell your landlord about the infestation right away. Because they own the property, they're likely responsible for having a qualified exterminator inspect not just your unit, but the surrounding units, too.

If you own your home, you can hire a professional exterminator or oust the bed bugs on your own. If you're going the DIY route (or just prepping for a professional extermination), there's a lot you can do to better your bug situation without chipping away at your savings.

Clean your bed

In a typical infestation, 70 percent of the bed bugs situate themselves on your mattress, box spring, and bed frame. It sounds scary because it's your sleeping area, but having a contained majority can make it easier to isolate the problem.

To clean your sheets, double-bag them, wash them in hot water for at least 30 minutes, remove the inner bag, and then throw them in a dryer on a hot setting for another 30-plus minutes.

For your mattress and box spring, vacuum them and put them in bed bug-proof encasements — fabric cases designed to keep even the tiniest bed bugs from getting free or getting in — for just over a year (because most adult bed bugs can live that long). They're inexpensive and effective, so long as you keep them on for all that time.

Vacuum!

Next, get rid of clutter and remove everything from shelves and dresser drawers. Vacuum every crevice you can. Once you're done vacuuming, dispose of the buggy vacuum cleaner bag.

Use safe insecticides

Treat areas and items as low as baseboards and as high as wall clocks with insecticides approved by a professional. Diatomaceous earth (DE) dust for insect control is good, so long as you purchase an indoor-safe spray and lightly dust things with it. And as you clean things, separate them from things you've yet to treat.

how to tell if bed bugs are gone

You might consider putting interceptors at the legs of your bed; they help keep bed bugs from crawling between the bed and the floor. Plus, a good way to tell if bed bugs are gone is simply to check the interceptors regularly. Don't see any trapped bed bugs? That's a good sign.

The only thing that rivals the absence of bed bugs is the absence of bed bug bites. If there are no new bites, it usually means there are no new bed bugs.

get additional protection for your place

In case there are other disasters in your home — say a burglar ransacks your entertainment unit — renters or homeowners insurance can help cover repairs or replace certain belongings. It'll even pay for reasonable living expenses if a covered incident forces you out of your home temporarily.

When you get a free quote for renters or homeowners insurance, you'll be able to build a policy with coverages unique to your needs and secure protection against a wide array of risks. Plus, our licensed agents are available at these times to address any of your homeowners insurance questions or concerns.

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