Does home insurance cover dog bites?
If you’re a homeowner and have a dog, it’s important to know what your home insurance covers if you suffer a dog-related injury from being bitten by someone or another pet. company. What if your dog bites someone? Home insurance can help cover costs if your pet injures someone, but only in certain circumstances. It’s important to know what your home insurance policy does or does not cover, so you don’t have to pay medical bills and court costs out of pocket for a dog bite claim.
When does home insurance cover dog bites?
Home insurance is intended to provide financial protection in the event of unforeseen events. If your dog were to bite someone who doesn’t live in the house with you, such as a friend or neighbor, your home insurance policy’s liability coverage may extend coverage to help cover medical expenses if you are held legally responsible. Liability coverage can also cover legal fees and trial court judgments.
Your dog bite insurance coverage may also apply if your dog bites another dog that does not live in your household. For example, if your dog runs off your property and bites another dog, you would likely have coverage, in this case, if you were found legally responsible for the incident.
Breed restrictions may also vary depending on your state. For example, Pennsylvania does not allow insurers to place restrictions on dog breeds. So no matter what type of race you have in some states, your home insurance company can’t deny your coverage.
It is important to note that the coverage of your liability insurance policy has a coverage limit, so expenses above this limit would not be covered. Liability coverage can be up to $100,000, $300,000, $500,000 or more. You may also consider purchasing an umbrella policy to have additional liability coverage above your homeowner’s coverage limit, should you need additional coverage.
When does home insurance not cover dog bites?
Although home insurance may cover dog bites, certain exclusions exist. An exclusion means that your insurance company specifically states that your policy does not cover certain scenarios. Below are examples of common exclusions your home insurer may have for dog bites. It is important to check with your insurance agent or insurance company, however, to see how your coverage does or would not apply.
Excluded coverage for dog breeds
Your property insurer may have a restricted list of dog breeds. Dog breeds that are generally excluded from home insurance companies are:
- Chow chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- german shepherd dog
- Great Dane
- pit bull
- Presa Canario
- Staffordshire Terrier
- siberian husky
Mixes of any restricted breed mentioned above are also generally excluded with most carriers. If your dog falls on a restricted list of dog breeds, even if you got the dog after purchasing a home insurance policy, a bite will likely not be covered. Check with your insurer, though, as carriers have different breed restrictions (or none at all).
Coverage excluded by the insurance company
Some insurers may have restrictions on dog bites listed in the terms of your home insurance policy. For example, you may recall agreeing to exclude pet coverage from your liability coverage options when you set up your policy. If so, you wouldn’t have liability insurance if your pet hurts someone.
Coverage excluded for household members
Your home insurance will also not cover injuries to household members. Suppose your dog bites a family member, such as your spouse, your homeowners liability insurance or medical expense coverage would not help cover the medical costs associated with this incident. The same restrictions apply if your dog bites another dog in your household, your policy will not cover this incident.
How to File a Dog Bite Claim
The first step in filing a dog bite claim is knowing what your policy covers. You can file a claim online by visiting your home insurance provider’s website and following their steps. You can also contact your insurer, as many companies have 24/7 claims services. If your policy was established with a local agent, you may need to contact them during normal business hours. The policy documents you received when you set up your home insurance policy, such as your declaration page, usually include a phone number to contact customer service or the claims department. You can also view your insurer’s information online.