Does Renters Insurance Cover Pet Damage

Q&A: Does Renters Insurance Cover Pet Damage?

(Make sure your pets are covered)

Table of Contents

Does renters insurance cover pet damage?
What types of pet damage are covered by renters insurance?
What are the recovery limits on pet damage under a typical renters insurance policy?
When doesn't a renters insurance policy cover pet damage?

Does renters insurance cover pet damage?

I recently bought a dog and I'm a bit concerned that with a puppy around, things could go wrong. I'm most concerned about property damage because he chews on everything. 

I'm also worried about what will happen if he bites someone and I'm sued. Does my renters insurance cover pet damage? If so, what kind of damage does it cover?

The short answer is that yes, your renters insurance will cover some type of pet damage. However, it isn't a blanket statement that renters insurance covers every type of pet-related damage. 

You also have to actually disclose your pet because if you don't, your insurer may refuse to cover anything relating to your pet at all. As you can infer, there are a lot of nuances to this that generally mean you're covered in some situations but not others.

Just consider this — a couple of things can go wrong with a pet such as:

  • Property damage (to other people's property)
  • Liabilities for issues such as injuries or other lawsuits 

Luckily, a renters insurance policy covers both of these risks. However, when they're caused by an animal there are other nuances to coverage that you should be aware of, all of which we'll get into in greater detail below. 

What's important to know at the outset is that most renters insurance policies provide some type of pet liability coverage. But the policies won't cover everything.

Which types of pet damage are covered by renters insurance?

As I mentioned above, renters insurance generally covers property damage and various liabilities. Generally speaking, both types of incidents are covered under your liability policy. 

This means that if a covered incident occurs, you'll be covered up to the policy's limits. Here are a few examples of how it works:

  • Injuries: Let's assume you invited some friends over to your house and your dog scratches a guest. The cut is pretty deep, and your guest goes to the hospital. That person would then file a claim through your insurer. If you're liable for those injuries, your insurer will attempt to settle with your guest. However, if there's no settlement, your guest may take the case to court. The insurance would pay for court costs and any fees related to settlement.
  • Property damage: Now let's assume that your dog is chasing a squirrel and causes damage to your neighbor's yard. To pay for the damage, your neighbor would file a claim through your insurance company. The same general rules apply here as is the case with injuries. Your insurance company will cover the costs if you're found liable.

You can speak with your independent insurance agent if you're confused whether or not certain types of pet damage are covered by your policy. However, these two issues are a good jumping-off point to give you a general lay of the land.

What are the recovery limits on pet damage under a typical renters insurance policy?

It's important to remember that there are limits to what your insurance policy will cover. For example, there might be a covered loss like an injury,  but if the costs of the lawsuit are more than the policy limits, you'll be on the hook for the excess. 

The biggest mistake people make is in choosing their policy limits. $100,000 in coverage may sound like a lot, but it isn't if you consider the legal fees associated with litigating a serious injury or the potential for certain types of property damage. 

Of course, there is some common sense that goes into this. If you own a fish, you don't have the same kinds of risks that you would with a cat, dog, or even an exotic animal. 

And even if your pet doesn't have a history of being aggressive, accidents can happen at any time and with any animal. That being said, it's important to speak with your independent insurance agent to determine what policy limit makes the most sense for you.

When doesn't a renters insurance policy cover pet damage?

It's important to note that there are exclusions with pet damage, too. One of the most common exclusions is that certain animal breeds cannot be covered. For example, pit bulls are notoriously excluded from renters insurance policies, and certain exotic animals may also be excluded. 

Likewise, it's vital to distinguish renters insurance coverage from pet insurance. Renters insurance covers pet-related issues relating to liability, whereas pet insurance covers wellness-related issues, such as veterinarian visits. 

Renters insurance also won't traditionally cover damage that a pet does to your home, just other people's property in your home. As is the case with all policies, it's best to speak with your independent insurance agent to determine what's covered and what's not.

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