How Concerned Should Your Inn Be About Bed Bugs?

Recently, a jury awarded a family $546,000, the largest judgment ever for a bed bug related case, in a suit brought against Liberty Mutual and Hilton Garden Inn, located in Ontario/Cucamonga, California.

The lawsuit claimed that a few hours after going to bed, the family awoke with bites and rashes from bed bugs. They demanded another room, but the hotel was fully booked, so they were forced to change lodging. The family further went on to claim that the manager of the hotel knew there were bed bugs in the room but failed to disclose that information.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite you! The Inn insurance experts at the Merriam Insurance Agency recommend you take the proper precautions so that a bed bug infestation doesn’t put your Inn at risk for a potentially devastating lawsuit.

  • Inspect secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of an active bed bug infestation.
  • Purchase high-quality protective covers that encase mattresses and box springs and eliminate many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement will also make bed bugs easier to spot.
  • Reduce any clutter in your Inn to limit hiding places for bed bugs.
  • Vacuum all carpeted rooms, couches, fabric-covered chairs, and tapestries frequently to remove any successful hitchhikers.
  • Be vigilant if you use a shared laundry facility. Transport items to be washed in plastic bags. If you have an active infestation, use a new bag for your return trip. Also, you should remove all laundry from the dryer directly into a bag and do all folding upon your return to the Inn. Remember, a dryer set on high heat can kill bed bugs.
  • Install door sweeps on the bottom of doors to discourage movement into hallways.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets, etc., to discourage movement through wall voids.
  • Consider purchasing a portable heating chamber to treat any items that you believe may have bed bugs. Be sure to read and carefully follow the directions if you use one of these units, and be aware that they are not regulated by the EPA or other federal agencies.

Bed bugs are durable, resilient and hardy insects, detested by all who come in contact with them. Following these simple steps will help minimize the risk to your guests and Inn. Because there is no guaranteed way to avoid having bed bugs at your Inn, we recommend you verify that you have adequate insurance in case your guests are affected. We are experts when it comes to insuring inns and providing loss control services. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI