Bed bugs: The scourge of anyone in the hospitality industry. Hard to get rid of and disgusting, these tiny creatures can damage more than just your reputation. Replacing a mattress (among other things) in your rental can get very expensive very fast, and you’ll lose out on income while you can’t rent your place out. Insurance helps, but not all policies cover bed bugs.
Who covers bed bugs for Airbnb insurance?
Most short-term rental insurance companies don’t cover bedbug damage, and if they do, they often only cover a portion of extermination costs. Proper Insurance has an optional bed bug enhancement that can be added on which covers extermination and lost income costs with no deductible!
What does Airbnb offer for insurance?
Airbnb offers its hosts two types of protection automatically: Host Protection and Host Guarantee. While neither of these is an all-in-one solution or a substitute for insurance, they are nice to have as an extra layer of protection.
Airbnb’s Host Protection is essentially liability insurance for you in your capacity as an Airbnb host. It protects you (in certain cases) from being sued by your guests. This can include things like an injury that occurs on your property, or damage to the guest’s belongings while staying at your Airbnb.
Their Host Protection is pretty nice, especially since it’s free and you’re automatically enrolled as soon as you start hosting. However, it’s not really a comprehensive insurance policy and you’re still at the mercy of what Airbnb chooses to cover (and not to cover).
Their Host Guarantee is the other side of the coin: it protects you as the host from damage caused by guests. The scope of what is protected isn’t clearly defined on Airbnb’s website, and in order to receive any compensation you have to file a claim for damages through their Resolution Center.
While it’s not explicitly stated on their website, I’ve heard from many hosts online that Airbnb has said it does not cover bedbug damage or the cost of extermination. They also aren’t likely to cover you in the case that a guest sues you for bed bug bites which, believe it or not, has actually happened.
Again, it’s nice that Airbnb offers this, but do you really want to put all your eggs in one basket? Especially a basket that works as more of a mediator for disputes between guests and hosts rather than as insurance for you? Not really. In order to be fully covered and secure, you’ll need short-term rental insurance!
Rental Recon’s TOP pick for short-term rental insurance is Proper Insurance. There are plenty more reasons to choose them besides the bed bug coverage, so I’ll explain a little more in this section.
Proper Insurance was created to serve the short-term rental market. In fact, they don’t even offer any other type of insurance at all! Employees from a now-competitor, CBIZ, left to form Proper to create a customizable solution to insurance problems often faced by Airbnb owners.
Proper’s policy replaces your current policy, unlike some others which stack on top of regular homeowners insurance. This is great, in my opinion, as I would much rather deal with one concise policy than two opposing ones. It’s also very affordable, and you can choose your coverage amount to keep costs low if needed.
Another great thing about Proper is how customizable their policies are. As mentioned above, their optional bed bug enhancement is highly recommended. They will cover up to $15,000 in extermination fees and/or $15,000 in lost income due to bed bugs with no deductible! It’s hard to find a company so committed to your success as a vacation rental owner.
I also like that their standard policy has no time limits on lost income coverage at all. If your rental is damaged, undergoing covered repairs, or experiencing some other type of covered issue, your income is actually insured, and you’ll still be paid during these periods. This is fantastic news, as events like these can be devastating to small business owners.
Proper Insurance is underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, who practically invented the insurance game and have been covering people since the 1600s! That’s pretty impressive, and it always feels good to know you have the backing of a reputable, long-standing company.
If you’d like to see a real-world premium comparison between Proper Insurance and their competitors, check out our Airbnb Insurance Providers article…
How to Protect Your Airbnb from Bed Bugs
There is no way to 100% guarantee that you’ll never get bed bugs in your Airbnb, but you can do everything in your power to make sure they have the lowest chance of infesting your stuff!
The first and best thing to do is to invest in a high quality mattress protector. A lot of them advertise that they protect against bed bugs, but common sense can tell you that that isn’t true. If the mattress isn’t 100% encased, zippered shut, and secure, then bed bugs can and will still get in.
Look for a mattress protector that covers all 6 sides of the mattress and zips shut with a tightly woven zipper. The one I use even has a Velcro cover that goes over the tiny hole left where the zipper ends for extra protection.
You’ll also need to make sure the weave of the fabric itself is tight enough to keep out these tiny critters. Typically, anything rated for allergens or dust mites should do the trick here. A lot of waterproof covers would work also, but I don’t typically recommend these. They’re usually made of plastic or rubber, making them uncomfortable and noisy to sleep on.
After you’ve secured all the mattresses in your rental, make sure you don’t slack on your cleaning routine. Bed bugs can live in all sorts of fabric, not just beds, so make sure to vacuum carpets and rugs after every stay.
Finally, pay attention! Always look out for anything out of the ordinary when you’re stripping a mattress or fluffing your couch cushions. The best case scenario for a bed bug infestation is catching it early, and definitely before any guests do!
Rental Recon Tip: Thankfully, bed bugs are somewhat of a rare sight these days. Hotels are more stringent on their cleaning policies, and guests aren’t as likely to pick them up and bring them to your Airbnb. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be diligent, though, as they are very tricky and costly to get rid of once you have them.
What to do if Your Airbnb Gets Bed Bugs
If all else fails and you do end up with a bed bug infestation, don’t panic. Call your exterminator immediately! If guests are staying with you, you’ll need to find them alternative accommodations and apologize profusely.
The exterminator will likely need to fumigate or spray the entire home, so plan to vacate the premises for a few days. It can sometimes take a few rounds of spraying to eliminate the infestation, especially if it was severe, so plan accordingly.
You may have to get rid of your mattresses or other furniture, and if you live in an apartment or other shared building you should notify your neighbors. These pesky creatures spread like wildfire!
Finally, make sure your insurance knows about it! Even if you’re not sure if they cover bed bugs or not, get a hold of them and find out. If you have Proper Insurance, you can rest a little easier as your extermination costs and income are safe and sound!