Renters Insurance with Pets

What kinds of pet-inflicted damage does a renters insurance policy cover?
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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

Are pets covered by renters insurance?

Renters insurance protects your personal property, personal liability and additional living expenses should your home become uninhabitable, along with medical payments to others. If you’re a renter — whether you’re renting an apartment or house — having a renters insurance policy is a wise decision, as the average cost only adds up to about $15 per month ($188 annually).

If you’re a pet owner, renters insurance is an important protection should the unexpected strike. Though you may not expect your furry friends to hurt anyone, dog bites do happen. Renters insurance coverage provides a cushion for any potential expenses — whether medical or legal.

Whether or not your renters policy covers your pet — and how it covers them — depends on the circumstances. Your renters insurance is only applicable if your pet injures someone else — in other words, it only covers your liability as a pet owner. 

If you're interested in pet insurance not specifically tied to your rental, get a quote with Embrace, rated number one for pet insurance by Forbes.

Pet-related costs covered by renters insurance

Pet liability claims

If your pet injures someone — like a guest or neighbor — renters insurance will cover your liability. This pet liability coverage also extends outside of your home. If your dog bites someone at the dog park, your renters insurance would kick in to help cover the injured party's medical expenses and your legal fees if you’re sued, up to your liability coverage limit. If your dog bites another dog at the dog park, your liability coverage would go toward the veterinary costs — in this case, the injured animal is considered the personal property of the other dog owner, so your renters policy would step in to help cover the damage done to the owner’s property.

Property damage claims

If your pet causes damage to someone else’s property or personal belongings, your renters insurance property coverage would only extend to that person and their property. Let’s say your cat scratched and destroyed both your and your neighbor’s lawn furniture. Renters insurance would only cover the cost of replacing your neighbor’s furniture, even though you both suffered property damage.

Does renters insurance cover pet damage?

Renters insurance does not cover damage inflicted by your pet on your own property. If your new puppy pees on some of your electronics or chews up your furniture, it won’t be covered by your renters policy. Although protection for your personal property is part of your coverage, a pet damaging or destroying your belongings is simply not considered a covered peril by insurance companies.

Restricted breeds and renters insurance

Though it may seem discriminatory, insurance companies base their decisions on historical data and statistics. This holds true whether an insurer is evaluating the risk profiles of a customer, vehicle, dwelling or pet. This data indicates certain dog breeds and types of pets are riskier to cover — that they’re more likely to be the source of insurance claims. It has nothing to do with your individual dog’s temperament.

However, if your dog has a history of aggression or biting, insurance companies may hesitate to assume that risk — by either imposing exclusions from coverage, denying coverage altogether or charging you a more expensive premium. Exotic pets may be excluded from insurance coverage entirely.

Which dog breeds are restricted by insurance companies?

Every insurance company’s requirements are different, and some breeds of dogs are more stigmatized than others. Your renters insurance company might choose to specifically exclude the dog from liability coverage — meaning that you won’t be covered, legally or medically, if your dog injures someone.

These dog breeds may be ineligible for coverage under a renters policy:

  • German Shepherd
  • Akita
  • Malamute
  • Cane Corso
  • Chow Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Great Dane*
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback*
  • Mastiff
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Siberian Husky
  • Wolf hybrid

*Insurance eligibility may vary.

Does renters insurance cover exotic pets?

Largely, no. Exotics pets may be excluded from a standard renters insurance policy, as they present unique risks. Look into acquiring a separate exotic pet insurance policy to cover the elevated risks of keeping an exotic animal in your home.

Exotic pets include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Ferrets
  • Rabbits
  • Snakes
  • Turtles
  • Birds

How to get renters insurance if you own a restricted dog breed

Not all insurance companies discriminate based on breed, but many major insurance companies do. The best you can do is shop around with as many providers as possible to find the most dog-friendly. Every insurance company has its own list of breeds they consider risky or they might evaluate dogs on a case-by-case basis. There are still some options if you can’t get coverage for your pet.

One solution would be to buy separate pet liability insurance specifically for your dog. Dog liability insurance specifically covers your dog and the liability it poses if your renters policy excludes or refuses to provide coverage.

Another solution is to get an umbrella policy on top of your renters insurance, which would fill in the gaps with additional coverage when it comes to liability and your pet. If your renters insurance policy excludes your dog, an umbrella policy could grant the liability coverage you’d need. If you get an umbrella policy to extend your liability coverage, it would only apply if the liability limit in your renters policy is exhausted.

A dog bite claim can get very expensive, especially if there are medical bills and legal action. Because of this, we always recommend having a safeguard in place — whether that’s in the form of renters insurance, home insurance or a separate liability policy — for peace of mind.

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