As bedbugs continue to infest beds, and headlines, nationwide, insurance agencies are increasingly adding bedbug insurance plans as part of their coverage.
Bedbug insurance was offered for the first time last month from two brokerage firms: Aon Risk Solutions and Willis North America. Insurance agency NSM Insurance Group also offered coverage in Pennsylvania. Mounting from pressure by lawmakers, a new market has spawned to include insurance coverage for bedbugs, according to The Hartford Courant.
John Lafakis, senior vice president at Willis North America, is personally spearheading the endeavor. You've got legislators in the state of New York Assembly who are trying to make this mandatory that insurance companies do this, he said. We're going to beat everyone to the punch.
Particularly of interest for property owners and hotels, the bedbug insurance policies are meant to protect against financial loss during infestations, occurring more frequently in the past few years since bed bugs first appeared.
Bed bugs, also known as Cimicidae, are small reddish parasites that feed on human blood, especially during the night hours. Bed bugs are transferred and spread through infested items, such as clothing, luggage, furniture or animals. Often times, they are difficult to detect until they gather together in masses or attack hosts. They can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions to humans.
Resilient against most common methods for eradicating pests like lice and cockroaches, bed bugs have developed resistance to pesticides over the years and have become a severe problem to treat when they infest an area. In New York City, an area most notably infested with bed bugs, bed bugs are nearly 300 times more resistant to pesticides than other bed bugs, according to the Journal of Medical Entomology.
New York City's Housing Preservation and Development department has reported more bedbug complaints in the city over the past five years, from just over 500 in 2004 to over 10,000 in 2009, as reported by ABC news.
Most recently, bed bugs have even plagued the rich and famous, most notably in Reebok Sports Club, an upscale celebrity-frequented gym in New York City, along with countless stores that have temporarily closed like Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria's Secret, also in New York.
The rise to include insurance policies among commercial properties is directly related to the cost to exterminate bed bugs. Reports have shown that it can cost hotels $600 to $800 per room to clear up bed bug issues, let alone the reputation blows hotels can face from websites like bedbugregistry.com.