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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pet Damage?

As any child who has asked their parents for a dog can tell you, owning a pet is a big responsibility.  They are a long-term investment, and the love and joy they can bring to a family is a unique and irreplaceable experience.  But what does that mean for your homeowners insurance policy?

Even if your pet is the “most good boy ever”, he can still make mistakes.  And because of that, insurance companies tend to be wary when it comes to insuring homes with animals.  Pets can cause major damage, and even injury.  For this reason you may find you have a higher premium, or you’re required to have increased liability coverage, or that you may be denied altogether. 

Breed and Species Matter

The type of animal you have weighs in on your insurance carriers decision.  So don’t worry, kitty isn’t highly likely to cause denial (But anything is possible).  Unfortunately however, there are certain breeds of dog that may raise a red flag (even if that specific dog is a very, very good boy).  

According to the CDC, dog bites are the cause of injury for 4.5 million people each year.  When it comes to insurance rates, companies use nothing but hard facts and statistics to hedge their bets on how much they will need to pay out for you, and how likely you are to file a claim in the first place.  So this is a fact they can’t ignore.  Because of this, many insurers can’t or won’t cover larger dog breeds, like pitbulls, rottweilers, or dobermans.  This isn’t necessarily because of a hatred for the dog, but that the bite of that breed can cause more injury than other breeds.  That’s not to say these breeds are guaranteed to be a threat, nor that other breeds wouldn’t injure anyone, but your claim may be affected for that reason.   

What Standard Homeowners Policies Cover: 

  • Bodily Injury (if your pet attacks someone, both the medical bills and legal fees to a degree)
  • Property Damage (if your pet destroys somebody else’s property, again, part of the cost to repair or replace that property and the cost of legal fees).

What Standard Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover:

  • Vet Visits
  • Property Damage (to your property that is… so if fido has an “accident” on the carpet, the cost is on you).  

Aren’t Pets Considered Property?

Yes and no.  Legally, they may be deemed personal property, however because they are also unique, living creatures, it’s almost impossible for insurance companies to assign them a monetary value.  

How Much Am I Covered For?

Most homeowners insurance policies come with liability coverage for anywhere from $100,000 – $500,000.  But as with any insurance policy, you’re allowed to opt for more coverage if you are willing to pay a higher premium.  

What if I Need to Cover Things Like Vet Bills?

If you want or need coverage for more common expenses of having a pet, such as vet visits and medication, there are plenty of specialized insurance options under the umbrella term of “pet insurance”, that can cover these things.  Vet visits and medications can be very costly, and can come at the most unexpected times, so it’s worth looking into this too.  

Navigating homeowners insurance can be confusing and time consuming, and it’s important to get it right to avoid costly mistakes.  Don’t go it alone, talk to a specialist who can help you for free.  

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