Does Renters Ins Cover Dog Bites?

Does Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

(Coverage for When Man's Best Friend Isn't So Friendly)

Table of Contents

Does renters insurance cover dog bites?
Which dog breeds are commonly excluded from renters insurance liability coverage?
Are there renters insurance policies that don't discriminate by breed?
What does renters insurance cover in terms of dog bite liability?

Does renters insurance cover dog bites?

I have a dog and he's generally very friendly, but that isn't to say that he couldn't have an accident some day. I'm curious whether my renters insurance policy would cover any dog-related incidents like a bite, or if I'd have to cover those costs on my own. 

Are there any exclusions that I should be aware of or other limits on coverage?

This is a great question, especially because coverage for dog-related liabilities isn't always straightforward. The short answer is that yes, dog bite liabilities are usually covered by a renters insurance policy. However, there are sometimes breed exclusions and there's always a policy limit. 

  • Breed exclusions: Certain breeds are excluded from coverage because they're generally considered violent and more prone to biting. Not all policies have breed exclusions, so this is something you'll want to discuss on a policy-by-policy basis with your  independent insurance agent.
  • Policy limit: The liability policy limit is typically $100,000 for most renters insurance policies. While $100,000 might sound like a lot, it isn't when you consider that the cost of a lawsuit can well exceed $100,000 if a dog bite victim files a claim and your insurance company isn't able to settle it without going to trial. Remember, you have to pay for anything above that $100,000 limit. 

These are just a few of the issues you have to keep in mind when you're considering whether renters insurance covers dog bites. If you have any questions at the outset of shopping around for a policy your independent insurance agent can help.

Which dog breeds are commonly excluded from renters insurance coverage?

As you might suspect, certain dog breeds are excluded from the personal liability protection of your renters insurance policy. This means that if your dog is that breed, costs arising from any injuries (and damage unrelated to injuries, for that matter) are excluded from coverage.

Insurers tend to exclude breeds that are inherently riskier than others. Insurers evaluate risk by factors such as size and certain qualities such as aggression, inherent to the breeds. The following represent some of the most commonly excluded breeds:

  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Pit Bull Terriers
  • Great Danes
  • Rottweilers
  • American Bulldogs
  • Mastiffs
  • Chow Chows
  • Akitas
  • Staffordshire Terriers

There are others, but these represent the most common ones. If you have a pet that is a breed not on this list, check with your independent insurance agent to determine whether your dog's breed is commonly excluded, and if so, from which insurers.

Are there renters insurance policies that don't discriminate by breed?

Yes, there are. It all just depends on the insurance company and the policy. Work with your independent insurance agent to find a policy that doesn't require you to disclose your pet's breed or to find a policy where your pet's breed isn't excluded.

What does renters insurance cover in terms of dog bite liability?

Dog bite liability is included under personal liability coverage of a renters insurance policy. This means that your insurance will pay for all costs relating to a claim the victim files under your policy relating to the dog bite. 

Generally, this includes everything from medical costs to settlement-related fees or even the cost of a lawsuit if your insurer is unable to settle.

One thing to keep in mind in terms of coverage is liability limits. $100,000 might sound like a lot right now, but it isn't for a severe dog bite injury. This is all the more true if the claim proceeds to court if the victim is unwilling to settle with your insurer. 

That being said, don't shortchange your coverage just because you don't think you'll need it. Any dog, even a non-aggressive dog, could bite if provoked.

If you're unsure about how much coverage you need, your independent insurance agent can help. Talk to yours to ensure that should you ever need it, you're covered even in the worst-case scenario.

Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Facebook Share this page on LinkedIn