What kinds of pet-inflicted damage does a renters insurance policy cover?
Renters insurance is meant to protect your personal property, liability, additional living expenses should your home become uninhabitable, and medical payments to others. If you’re a renter — whether you’re renting an apartment, house, or condo — having a renters insurance policy is a wise and generally affordable decision, with average premiums of about $15 per month (or an annual rate of $188).
If you’re a pet owner, renters insurance is a good safeguard should the unexpected strike. Though you may not expect your beloved pup to hurt anyone, dog bites do happen. Renters insurance coverage provides cushion for any potential expenses — whether they’re 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 furry friend injures tosomeone else— in other words, it only covers your liability as a pet owner. While your liability insurance covers potential damage that you inflict on others, this also extends to damages caused by your pet.
Read more on what renters insurance covers.
If your dog or cat injures someone — like a guest or neighbor — renters insurance will cover your liability. This coverage also extends outside of your home. If your dog bites someone at the dog park, your renters insurance will 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 seen as the personal property of the dog owner, so your renters policy would step in to help cover the damage done to the owner’s property.
If your pet damages someone else’s property, your renters insurance would only extend to that person and their property. Let’s say your cat scratches and destroys your lawn furniture and your neighbor’s. Renters insurance would only cover the cost of replacing your neighbor’s furniture even though you both suffered property damage.
Renters insurance will not cover damage inflicted by your pet to yourownproperty. 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.
Though it may seem discriminatory, insurance companies base their decisions using historical data and statistics. This holds true whether an insurer is evaluating the risk profiles of a customer, vehicle, home, or pets. This data indicates certain dog breeds and types of pets are more risky to cover — that they’re more likely to be the source of 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 excluding the pet from coverage, denying coverage altogether, or charging you a more expensive premium. Exotic pets may be excluded from insurance coverage entirely.
Every insurance company’s requirements are different, and some breeds are more stigmatized than others. Your insurer 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:
*Insurance eligibility may vary.
Largely, no — exotic pets may be excluded as a whole as they present much higher of a risk profile. You would need to look into acquiring a separate exotic pet insurance policy to cover your bases when it comes to the elevated risks of keeping an exotic animal in your home.
Exotic pets include, but are not limited to the following:
Not all insurance companies discriminate based on breed, but many of the big insurance players do. The best you can do is shop around with as many insurers as possible to find the most dog-friendly. Every insurance company has their 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 a separate liability policy 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 when it comes to liability and your pet. If your renters 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.