Pets and Home Insurance: What to Know
Are pets covered by home insurance?
Depending on the situation, your pets may be covered by your home insurance. For example, if your dog bites someone not listed on your insurance policy, your homeowners liability coverage would cover any medical expenses or legal bills. However, if your dog or cat destroys your carpet or personal belongings, your home insurance usually will not cover the damage.
Let’s explore the ins and outs of pets and home insurance.
Are pets covered by home insurance?
Pets are part of the family. As such, damages they inflict on others' persons or property may be covered under home insurance policies via liability coverage — the part of your insurance policy that applies if you're held liable for property or bodily injury damage suffered by someone else.
Unless your policy comes with pet-specific endorsements, an insurance company may deny any coverage for damages inflicted by pets occurring on your property. Learn more about excluded pet breeds.
While you’re shopping for home insurance, an insurer might ask whether you have a dog and inquire about the dog’s breed. In the eyes of an insurance company, certain dog breeds pose more risk than others. Which brings us to the next question — which pets are commonly excluded from home insurance policies?
Common pet-related claims
Common examples of covered pet claims:
- Your Golden Retriever bites a neighbor, resulting in hospitalization
- Your Husky injures the neighbor’s cat*
- Your cat damages a neighbor's expensive rose garden
*The cat is considered the personal property of your neighbor. In this case, if you’re found liable for the damage, i.e., veterinary bills, your home insurance policy may step in to cover the cost. Generally, most insurance companies define a “pet” as a dog or cat. Exotic pets may not enjoy the same coverage.
Does homeowners insurance cover pet damage?
If your pet damages your own property — say your dog chews up an expensive rug — home insurance will not cover the damage. Since pets are considered property, insurance companies regard pet owners to be responsible for their pet's actions.
However, if someone else's pet damages your home or injures you, you can file a claim with your insurance. This goes both ways, so if your own pet causes property damage or bites someone, they could file a claim against you.
Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites?
Many pet owners might be wondering if their homeowners insurance policy contains dog bite insurance — sometimes called dog bite liability. In many cases, your home or renters insurance policy's liability coverage will indeed cover you should your dog bite someone. Your liability policy will likely go toward paying for the injured party's medical bills and possibly legal fees or other incurred expenses, though this can vary depending on your state and your insurance company.
First off, how blame is assigned for the incident may vary depending on where you live. Like most matters related to insurance, laws differ from state to state. Some states consider the owner liable only if they knew that the animal was dangerous (such as if they had a bite history).
Others, however, consider the dog owner liable regardless of whether or not the dog had a record of biting. Second, as we discussed above, some insurance companies may prohibit certain breeds to be covered under your homeowners policy, even going so far as to make you sign a waiver of coverage for such animals that they consider to be dangerous.
Home insurance for exotic animals
Exotic pets may be excluded entirely by home insurance companies. The value of these pets and their unique risk profiles make them less insurable. These animals include, but are not limited to:
- Large cats
Dog-related injuries are a steadily rising source of insurance claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the dollar value of claims paid out for dog bites in 2021 was $882 million, and the number of dog bite claims increased by 2.2% year over year. As such, pet owners with a dog who poses a potential risk should make sure to ask an insurance agent if your homeowners policy will cover dog bites.
If you have significant assets — or fear that the dog liability insurance typically included in your homeowners policy may not go far enough — you may consider adding an umbrella policy to increase your protection.
Which pets are excluded from homeowners insurance?
The main reason pets are excluded from insurance is because of the risk profile they present. Certain dog breeds and types of pets — usually exotic pets — may be eligible only for limited liability or no liability. If your dog has a history of bite incidents or aggressive behavior, it may be ineligible for home insurance coverage.
Dog breeds commonly excluded from home insurance
Insurance companies use historical data to categorize certain types of dogs as “risky” or “dangerous breeds,” and may impose breed exclusions. It’s generally not reflective of the individual dog’s temperament or the American Kennel Club’s description of the dog. Even so, historical data tells insurance companies these dogs are more likely to be involved in pet liability claims — most commonly, dog bite claims.
Dog breeds often ineligible for home insurance:
- German Shepherd
- Alaskan Malamute
- Cane Corso
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- Great Dane*
- Rhodesian Ridgeback*
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Presa Canario
- Siberian Husky
- Wolf hybrid
*Insurance eligibility may vary.
Not every insurer will deny coverage because the breed is deemed "dangerous." Some insurance companies don't factor in the breed of your dog when they calculate your premium, while some companies may exclude the dog specifically from liability coverage. In this scenario, if your dog were to bite someone, you would have no coverage in the case of a lawsuit.
These dog breeds can also lead to higher homeowners insurance premiums. If your alternative is paying more for your pet to be covered by liability insurance, do so. This is much less risky than voiding coverage.
How does owning an aggressive dog breed affect home insurance rates?
You may end up paying higher than the national average for a home insurance premium if your dog's breed is classified as "aggressive" or "restricted." Some insurance companies are more dog-friendly than others and are more concerned about dogs with bite histories than specific breeds. Some states — Michigan, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania — do not permit insurers to exclude dogs from liability coverage; in addition, they cannot deny coverage altogether because of a dog's breed.
Our data suggest there's not much of a difference in home insurance rates for owners of dogs considered "aggressive." The difference in premium is about 1 percent, on average.
What is the cheapest insurance company for homeowners with restricted or aggressive dog breeds?
We surveyed major insurance companies to find the cheapest companies for homeowners insurance customers with dogs classified as "aggressive" breeds.
We found AAA homeowners insurance was the most affordable for owners of aggressive-breed dogs, with Allstate in second. The homeowner profile we used might not match yours exactly. See our methodology, and use this data as a starting point when comparing quotes.
Compare home insurance rates and find a policy that meets your family's needs.
Pet and home insurance bundles
Most insurance companies will provide coverage for your cat or dog. If you’re looking for pet insurance plans, specifically to cover any medical payments, many of the top insurance providers offer coverage.
Below are some home insurance companies offering pet insurance:
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
Rates vary based on the insurance plan you choose, the age of your pet and the animal's medical history.
If you're interested in getting a pet insurance quote, consider Embrace, an award-winning pet insurance provider.
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About The Zebra
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