Homeowners Insurance and Dogs

No matter if you raised him from the time he was 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.

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 have the proper protection in place and understand exactly how your dog affects your homeowners insurance.

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. But with American Family, your home, renters, manufactured home or condo policy will provide 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.

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 bites out of fear, to protect their territory, to establish dominance 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. Spayed or 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. When considering 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 breeds won’t impact your eligibility for 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.


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