Dog Liability Insurance: Dog Bite and Other Animal Incident Coverage

brown dog standing on grass smiling with head cocked

Dog liability insurance that covers you and your family from liability for dog bites or other animal-related issues is very state-specific. Not all insurance companies operate in all states, and states have different laws regulating the types of insurance that can be sold. Here's what to know if you're a homeowner or renter considering pet liability insurance.

Dog liability insurance for homeowners

If you own your home, check with your homeowners insurance agent to find out what type of coverage you already have. Ask whether your insurance includes dog and/or animal liability. It is possible that such coverage is excluded by your insurer, which means you would not be covered if one of your animals hurts someone or causes property damage.

If you would like to change your insurance coverage, discuss it with your agent. If the company doesn't offer what you're looking for, call other insurance agents in your area to ask about their homeowners products.

In some cases, insurance companies exclude specific dog breeds. If you have a dog whose breed is excluded by a particular company, you can choose not to give that company your business or you can ask to challenge the company's classification of your dog. 

For example, if your dog has been designated a pit bull by your insurer, ask whether you can obtain a letter from your veterinarian or the results of a DNA test to counter that designation. If you do have a pit bull terrier, a helpful group is My Pit Bull is Family, which has a nationwide housing and insurance database.

Another option for homeowners is "umbrella" coverage insurance. These policies provide a specific dollar amount of coverage over and above your standard homeowners insurance. They are meant to protect you from a catastrophic liability claim. 

An umbrella policy might cover events that your standard homeowners coverage does not. For example, if your dog is not insurable with your present company under your homeowners policy, an umbrella policy might cover events related to your dog. However, it is very important to consult your insurance professional about specific coverages you have or can obtain in your state.

Pet liability insurance for renters

Renters may obtain renters insurance for their personal property. This insurance may or may not cover animal-related claims, so check with your insurance agent for more information about your policy.

Another consideration is your landlord and the insurance they maintain on the property. Landlords might be reluctant to rent to people based on the size or breed of a particular pet. If you run into this, ask whether you can provide a letter from a veterinarian or a written assessment from a particular trainer that states your animal has a friendly temperament. 

Talk to your landlord to find out what their specific concerns are. Sometimes they are more worried about property destruction or damage than bites. If you are already locked into a rental contract, talk with your landlord about what you can do to resolve any conflict.

Learn about dog breed discrimination