Two people playing with a puppy in a yard.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Updated April 2, 2024 . AmFam Team

Your dog isn’t just a pet — it’s a family member. Like any family member, it could be responsible for harming another person, resulting in an expensive lawsuit and medical expenses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs yearly. Even the best-behaved pooch could nip a neighbor, knock someone down, trip, scratch or otherwise act in a way that injures someone. Understanding your homeowners insurance liability coverage can give you peace of mind
that, should your dog bite or hurt someone, may help protect you.

Happy family sitting on their porch with their dog.

Does home insurance coverage dog bites to people?

Whether you're out walking Fido or playing in your yard, if your dog bites someone, the liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy may help cover your legal and medical expenses resulting from the injury. 

If you’re covered, it’ll only be up to the limit listed on your policy, so if a claim exceeds your liability limit, you’ll be responsible for paying all damages above that amount.

Two dogs in a park playing with a stick. 

Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites to other dogs?

Even good dogs have bad days. If your dog bites or otherwise harms another dog, your homeowners policy may help to cover the costs of vet bills and legal costs if the other dog’s owner sues you. Check with your insurance agent to determine your coverage and limits.

Medical worker wrapping someone's wound.

How much will homeowners insurance pay for dog bites?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than $686 million in insurance payouts were made for dog bites in 2017. Liability coverage through your homeowners insurance may pay damages from dog bites or dog-related injuries up to your liability limits, which are listed in your policy. But you would be responsible for medical expenses and legal fees above your liability insurance limit.

Person working on his laptop while his dog licks his face.

How much dog bite liability coverage should you have?

Unfortunately, lawsuits and medical bills for severe canine-caused injuries can easily exceed typical liability limits. You may want to look into additional coverage for peace of mind — ask your agent about increasing your liability limits or purchasing a personal liability umbrella policy, which adds an extra layer of coverage over and above your primary insurance limits.

Dog sleeping on a couch.

Breed Restrictions

Owning some dog breeds categorized as potentially dangerous, like pit bulls, Dobermans or Rottweilers, may make your homeowners coverage more expensive or restrictive, and some insurance companies won’t insure homeowners who own these breeds. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance agent to see if you meet the requirements to make sure your dog is covered under your policy.

Dog Bite History

If your dog has bitten someone, you may be subject to a higher homeowners insurance premium, and other coverage limitations may apply. If you’re facing this situation, speak with your agent as soon as possible.

Happy family raking leaves in their yard with their dog.

Protect Your Home — Get a Quote

If you’re a homeowner with a dog or plan to get one soon, connect with an American Family agent to learn how your home insurance may offer protection and whether or not the dog you’re considering is a restricted breed. Reviewing your policy together lets you learn your liability coverage options and gain peace of mind.

This article is for informational purposes only, is not part of your policy, and is not a promise or guarantee of coverage. If there is any conflict between this information and your policy, the provisions of the policy will prevail. Insurance policy terms and conditions may apply. Exclusions may apply to policies, endorsements, or riders. Coverage may vary by state and may be subject to change. Some products are not available in every state. Please read your policy and contact your agent for assistance.

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