Whether you raised him from a pup or adopted her later in life, you don’t just view your dog as a pet: you consider them a member of your family. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, almost 90 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States — and while your dog offers a whole lot of love and laughter, they can also be a potential liability. Luckily, we offer dog-friendly homeowners insurance.
At American Family Insurance, we love pets and understand that they’re part of your household. That’s why we want to make sure you understand exactly how your dog affects your homeowners insurance and ensure that you have the proper protection in place not only for your home, but for your dog, too.
Is My Dog Covered by My Homeowners Insurance?
Whether or not your dog is covered by your homeowners insurance depends on who you have as an insurance provider. With American Family, your home, renters, manufactured home or condo policy will provide dog liability coverage — a form of financial protection against liability claims, including lawsuits for accidental bodily injury or damage to someone’s property. This includes paying for medical expenses if your dog injures someone or helping cover costs if your dog destroys someone else’s property.
It's important to note that your homeowners insurance won’t cover damage done by your pets to your own home, such as if your dog chews a hole in your sofa or scratches your doors or woodwork. And, keep in mind, your homeowners policy doesn’t cover injuries to you and the residents of your household. It only pays for injuries to others.
Need insurance for your dog? Consider pet insurance from an American Family Insurance agent to help you care for your pet through all stages of its life.
We also offer a special add-on pet coverage that provides up to $1,000 for veterinarian services, final expenses (like burial or disposal fees) or the cost to replace your dog if death occurs. This coverage is applicable after a covered property loss.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?
Whether you’re walking your dog through the park or at home playing in the yard, the liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy will help cover you if your dog bites someone or if they bite another dog.
Remember, a dog can bite out of fear, to protect their territory, to correct another dog’s behavior or for several other reasons. Because dog bites occur for a variety of reasons, keep these tips in mind to prevent your favorite family pet from biting:
- Keep your dog on a leash.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended with strangers or children.
- Make sure people respect your dog’s space.
- Spay or neuter your dog — this helps reduce their desire to roam and fight with other dogs. According to the National Canine Research Foundation, neutered dogs are three times less likely to bite.
- Socialize your dog. Introduce your dog to many people and situations so it isn’t nervous or frightened under normal social circumstances.
- Enroll your pooch in a dog training class. Not only does it help your pet learn better behaviors, but it teaches you to be a good pet owner, too.
And it’s not just bites that cause liability incidents — if your overly excited pup jumps on someone, knocks them over and breaks their wrist, you’ll be able to cover their medical expenses with the help of your liability coverage.
How Much Coverage Do I Need for My Dog?
Your homeowners policy has a liability “limit” that, in the event of a loss, will cover up to a certain dollar amount. Your liability limit is the amount available to cover anything from a dog bite to your neighbor slipping and falling on your icy steps. To understand your potential pet liability cost and the amount of coverage you need, think about the amount it may cost for medical expenses and if someone were to sue you. Sometimes this number is well into the six figures! For instance, if your liability amount is $300,000 but your dog bit someone and medical expenses and legal fees came to $500,000, you’ll be responsible to pay the remaining $200,000.
If you want to ensure you have adequate coverage in place, an umbrella policy is an added layer of protection which provides a much higher level of coverage to financially protect you from unexpected incidents with your dog.
Homeowners Insurance Dog Breed Restrictions
Unfortunately, not all dogs will meet the criteria to be included under a policy. While most dog breeds won’t impact your eligibility for homeowners coverage, there are some breeds that require additional considerations, such as whether your yard is fully and securely fenced. You must also provide certain documentation to be considered eligible, like evidence of up-to-date annual vaccines and proof that your dog has been spayed or neutered.
It’s also important to note that, depending on your dog’s prior history (e.g. history of biting, if they were trained or used as an attack or guard dog), they might be subject to a dangerous dog liability limit that reduces their liability coverage for losses to $25,000.
Your American Family Insurance agent can help you determine the specific requirements for insurability based on the breed of your dog.
At American Family, we want to help protect all the things that matter most to you. Connect with your agent and gain peace of mind that you have the right coverage in place for your four-legged friend.
This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through differentsources.
As an expert in insurance and risk management with extensive knowledge in the field, I can confidently break down the concepts used in the provided article and provide additional insights:
Homeowners Insurance and Dog Liability Coverage:
- The article emphasizes the importance of having homeowners insurance that includes dog liability coverage. This coverage protects against liability claims, including lawsuits resulting from accidental bodily injury or property damage caused by your dog.
- Specific to American Family Insurance, the policy covers liability claims related to dogs for home, renters, manufactured home, or condo policies.
Coverage Limit and Financial Protection:
- The article mentions the existence of a liability "limit" in homeowners policies, which is the maximum amount the insurance will cover in the event of a loss. This limit is crucial to consider, especially when assessing potential pet liability costs.
- To ensure adequate coverage, the article suggests evaluating the liability limit in relation to potential expenses, such as medical bills and legal fees. An example is provided where the liability limit is insufficient to cover the total expenses, leaving the policyholder responsible for the difference.
Umbrella Policy for Added Protection:
- The article introduces the concept of an umbrella policy as an additional layer of protection. This policy provides higher coverage levels to financially protect the policyholder from unexpected incidents involving their dog.
- The umbrella policy is recommended for those who want to ensure they have sufficient coverage, especially in scenarios where the liability limit of the homeowners policy may fall short.
Dog Bites and Liability Prevention Tips:
- The liability portion of homeowners insurance is stated to cover incidents where a dog bites someone. The article provides tips to prevent such incidents, including keeping the dog on a leash, not leaving the dog unattended with strangers or children, and socializing the dog.
- Neutering or spaying the dog is recommended, as it can reduce the likelihood of biting. The National Canine Research Foundation is cited to support the claim that neutered dogs are three times less likely to bite.
Pet Insurance and Additional Coverage:
- American Family Insurance offers pet insurance, providing coverage for veterinarian services, final expenses, or the cost of replacing a dog in the event of death after a covered property loss.
- This additional coverage is presented as a way to address various needs throughout a pet's life, beyond the liability coverage included in homeowners insurance.
Dog Breed Restrictions and Eligibility:
- The article mentions that not all dogs may be eligible for coverage under a homeowners policy. While most breeds won't impact eligibility, some breeds may require additional considerations, such as having a fully fenced yard.
- Documentation, including proof of up-to-date vaccines and spaying/neutering, may be necessary for eligibility. Dogs with certain histories, such as a biting history or training as an attack or guard dog, may have a reduced liability coverage limit.
- American Family Insurance encourages policyholders to connect with their agents to determine specific requirements for insurability based on their dog's breed. This emphasizes the personalized assistance and guidance that insurance agents can provide in tailoring coverage to individual circumstances.
In conclusion, the article comprehensively covers the intersection of homeowners insurance and dog ownership, highlighting key considerations, coverage details, and preventive measures. It is a valuable resource for individuals looking to understand and navigate the complexities of insuring their homes with dogs as part of the family.