A few months ago, I received this postcard in the mail from what I believe to be either a phony company or a sales funnel test:
After some investigation into the company, I think it is either a scam or a “Lean Startup” business test.
This post details my investigation.
Many New Yorkers are terrified of bed bugs. I’ve never had them, knock on wood.
I’ve also never heard of the New York Bed Bug Insurance Company.
So when I got their postcard, which was nicely designed with good sales copy, I decided to investigate.
And now, in January 2017, it seems to be a ghost company! Or it might just be a side project for a musician named Charles Lurie.
What is bed bug insurance?
If you live in New York City, you have experienced bed bugs or you know someone who has. The rich and poor alike are affected. The story is the same: bed bugs are found, thousands of dollars are spent to eradicate them or to move, bed bugs are gone, and people are traumatized. Or something like that.
Bed Bug Statistics in NYC
The summer of 2010 was the peak of the bed bug infestation in NYC.
- 2010 – 4,293 violations issued to landlords
- 2014 – 2,735 violations issued to landlords
- 2015 – 2,881 violations issued to landlords
Bedbugs have reportedly invaded even the high-end hotels in the city.
My research leads me to believe that bed bug insurance was created in 2011 due to the high level of infestations nationwide. Renters’ and homeowners’ policies do not cover insect infestations, and landlords are required to handle bugs for their tenants.
I’m guessing that someone decided to attempt to capitalize on the opportunity, and bed bug insurance was born.
There are very few providers that offer the service and it is mostly offered to hotels, hospitals and schools from what I can find. Perhaps this was a test to offer it to consumers for the first time.
New York Bed Bug Insurance Co
The postcard says: “Receive your claim immediately, along with a personal agent who will help you get your life back on track. Get a free quote and find out the bed bug stats in your neighborhood.”
When you went to the website in October 2016 that is found on the postcard, it is a simple landing page that asks for your information so that the “New York Bed Bug Insurance Co” can provide you with a quote. I submitted my information and never heard back from them!
January 2017 status: The website has been closed down.
When you call the phone number that is found on the postcard, it is a recording that asks you to leave a voicemail with your information so that they can provide a quote. There is nobody answering the phone, and their recording always says “no agents are available to take your call.”
It seems that someone has put together a sales funnel with the intention of gathering inbound leads that takes them zero time to gather.
It all seemed a bit fishy, so I dug in deeper.
The person who owns the domain name bedbuginsurance.nyc is Charles Lurie from Brooklyn and the domain was purchased in August of 2015.
I was able to find Charles’ email address and looked him up, and the only thing I can find about him anywhere on the internet is some music he created and put up on Bandcamp. His song Bad Man is actually a decent song!
This is where the trail went cold – I cannot find any further information about Charles Lurie or about New York Bed Bug Insurance Co. Both seem to be phantoms, but at least I got to listen to a decent indie alternative song!
It was a good piece of direct mail. I wonder why they didn’t do the business.
This Charles fellow was potentially testing out this concept by running some mailers, and keeping his time commitment very low by requiring everyone who responds to leave a voicemail or fill out a form.
In January 2017, it appears he has closed the website. I have received no further mailers.
Maybe there is more to this story. Email me if you have any info.