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As an Airbnb host, you and your property face various risks when guests stay in your rental. Common risks that most Airbnb hosts think about are property damage, theft, and personal injury. Luckily, these popular threats are easy to protect against through Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance and homeowner’s insurance.
One threat that is often neglected until it is too late is bed bugs. Bed bugs are a growing issue in the Airbnb community, and unfortunately, Airbnb’s policy towards bed bugs and covering hosts is murky at best.
Airbnb hosts should have a short-term rental insurance policy that protects them and their property from the risks associated with running an Airbnb. Proper Insurance is one of the few policy providers that cover damages related to bed bugs.
What should I do if an Airbnb guest brings bed bugs into my rental?
If an Airbnb guest brings bed bugs into your rental, you must call an exterminator to treat the issue. Airbnb does not cover bed bugs in their Host Guarantee, and they rarely reimburse hosts for bed bug treatment. To ensure you are covered in the event of a bed bug infestation, you should have a short-term rental insurance policy that specifically covers damages related to bed bugs.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny insects about the size of an apple seed that feed on the blood of other animals. When a bed bug bites a human, it can cause a swollen itchy rash. Bed bugs aren’t inherently dangerous and don’t carry diseases, but they are a nuisance.
Bed bugs reproduce rapidly and can live without food for several months. They can hide in the seams of luggage and clothes, allowing them to be easily transported without the knowledge of the carrier. Once inside a home, bedbugs can usually be found in mattresses, box springs, clothes, and even behind wallpaper.
How to Tell if My Airbnb Has Bed Bugs
Two indications that your Airbnb may have bed bugs are if you or guests have bed bug bites or see physical signs of bed bugs in your living space.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs feed at night, so bites usually appear on skin that is generally exposed at night while sleeping, like the hands, ankles, and neck. The bites are typically red, itchy, and appear as small bumps in a straight line.
Not everyone reacts to bed bug bites, so you may have an infestation even if you don’t have evidence of bites. This is why it is important to check your space for signs of an infestation.
Signs of Bed Bugs in your Living Space
A couple of signs that you may have bed bugs include:
- Finding live bed bugs in the folds of your mattress
- Finding bed bug shells in your bed
- Bloodstains on sheets or pillowcases
- Musty odor
If you have bed bug bites or see any of the signs of bed bugs in your Airbnb rental, you should immediately call an exterminator who can confirm the infestation and treat your space.
Does Airbnb’s Host Protection Program Cover Bed Bugs?
Airbnb has two protection programs to help protect hosts from damage caused by guests staying in their rentals.
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee is property damage protection. Airbnb provides each host with up to $1,000,000 USD in coverage if a guest damages a rental property. Host Guarantee covers:
- Damage to your place caused by guests
- Damage to your belongings caused by guests
- Damage caused by a guest’s assistance animal
Host Guarantee is NOT an insurance policy, and not all damage is covered. Host Guarantee is subject to terms, conditions, and exclusions. To receive reimbursement, hosts are subjected to a lengthy request process through the Airbnb Resolution Center.
Airbnb’s Host Guarantee does not cover bed bugs and reimbursement for bed bug treatment.
Host Protection Insurance
Airbnb also offers hosts Host Protection Insurance. This is an actual insurance policy that provides hosts with legal liability coverage up to $1,000,000 USD. Host Protection Insurance may cover:
- A host’s legal responsibility for bodily injury to guests or others
- A host’s legal responsibility for damage to property belonging to guests or others
- A host’s legal responsibility for damage to common areas, like building lobbies and neighboring properties, caused by a guest or others
Like the Host Guarantee, this policy is subject to terms, conditions, and exclusions. One condition is that for the policy to apply, the host must be legally at fault for the guest or third party’s injury or property damage. Bed Bugs brought to an Airbnb by a guest would not be covered by this policy because the host isn’t legally at fault for the damage.
Although Airbnb offers hosts some protections for property damage and liability, neither Airbnb protection policy will cover a host for a bed bug infestation.
How Do I Get Coverage for Bed Bug Damages?
Homeowners can spend up to $5,000 treating a living space for bed bugs. Even if you take preventative measures against bed bugs, an Airbnb host is still at risk of a guest bringing bed bugs into the rental.
On top of extermination costs, Airbnb hosts can also face bed bug liability claims and lost income due to the Airbnb being treated. Luckily, some insurance policies offer coverage for bed bug liability and damage.
If you have bed bugs in your Airbnb, extermination fees aren’t your only worry. If a guest is bitten by bed bugs while staying at your rental, they can hold you liable and sue for damages. Now you are facing extermination fees and your guest’s liability lawsuit. To protect yourself, you must have a comprehensive short-term rental insurance policy.
Proper Insurance is one of the only insurance companies that provide coverage for bed bug damages, including liability. Airbnb hosts with a Proper Insurance policy will benefit from:
- $1,000,000 commercial liability coverage
- $15,000 in bed bug extermination coverage
- $15,000 in bed bug lost business income
For more information about Proper Insurance and an in-depth review of the coverage they provide, check out our article about the Pros and Cons of Proper Insurance.
Protecting my Airbnb from Bed Bugs
Although there is no foolproof method to prevent a bed bug infestation in your Airbnb, there are some steps you can take to lessen the risk of bed bugs and quickly identify an infestation.
Use Mattress and Pillow Protectors
Using protective encasements for your mattresses and pillows can help prevent a bed bug infestation. These cases are specifically designed to stop the spread of bed bugs throughout your bedding. If you’re having trouble choosing the best mattress protector, check out our review for the three best mattress protectors to use in your Airbnb.
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A foam sealant can prevent bed bugs from accessing any cracks and getting into your walls. Seal all visible cracks to limit bed bug infestations and make treatment easier.
Use a Metal Bed Frame
Bed bugs can hide in cracks and crevices in a wood bed frame, making them harder to locate and treat. Consider swapping your wood bed frame for a metal frame. Bed bugs avoid metal surfaces, and there is no place for them to hide.
Provide Luggage Racks
Add luggage racks to your Airbnb, so guests are less likely to put their suitcases and bags on the beds. Bed bugs are often transported from one location to another, hiding in the seams of luggage. If a guest has bed bugs in their bags, there is less chance of infesting your Airbnb if the luggage doesn’t make contact with the bed.
What Do I Do if My Airbnb is Infested?
If you find out that your Airbnb has a bed bug infestation, follow these steps:
- Act Fast- Bed bugs spread and reproduce quickly, so acting quickly is critical. If you have guests, you must remove them from the space. You should also cancel any future Airbnb bookings until after you’ve treated your rental.
- Call an Exterminator- Eliminating bed bugs requires a professional exterminator. You may be able to get bed bugs under control with your own treatment, but they are likely to return without professional help.
- Call your Insurance- If you have an insurance policy that covers bed bugs like the policies offered by Proper Insurance, be sure to call your provider and submit a claim. Be sure to track all expenses like extermination fees, replacement of property, and lost income.
A bed bug infestation in an Airbnb rental is a challenging issue, resulting in property damage, lawsuits, and lost income. If a guest brings bed bugs into your Airbnb, you need to make sure you are covered, so you aren’t stuck paying out of pocket for this costly issue. Be sure that you have a comprehensive short-term rental insurance policy that specifically covers bed bugs.