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We’ve written a lot about bed bugs, notably including the Manhattan co-op with a $250,000 clean-up bill.
One prominent interior designer we know (whose clients occasionally call on him to manage their extermination effort while they decamp elsewhere) tells us that some white-glove buildings are so worried about contracting bed bugs that they have quietly begun conducting monthly inspections using bug-sniffing canines.
That sounds smart - and economical. In addition to footing the cost of building-wide extermination, co-op and condo dwellers are legally responsible for cleaning up the bugs in their own apartment if they brought them into the building. The pricetag can quickly surpass several thousand dollars per apartment.
So does insurance cover any of this?
“Insurers view it as a maintenance issue, like mold or termites—it’s up to the person who owns the property to maintain their home and make sure there are no bug infestations,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, an insurance industry trade association.
Worters directed us to a standard clause that appears in property insurance policies (including renter’s insurance) carving out damages resulting from “birds, vermin, rodents, or insects.”
The only bed bug-related damages that might be covered, she says, would be the medical expenses of someone who sues a policyholder after being bitten in the insured's bedbugged home.
Worters says she's not aware of any plans afoot to introduce bed bug insurance policies.
“It’s such a high risk that I don’t think companies would want to be responsible for that,” she explains. “If they did create it, I’m sure it would be expensive.”