Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pet Damage?

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If your pet were to damage any part of your home, you would generally not be covered for the cost of the repairs or replacement. Your insurance policy will cover you if your pet destroys someone else's property, however. You can also seek compensation from another person's insurance if their pet breaks or damages your things. In this article we'll detail the different insurance situations involving pets and property damage. For more information on what to do with dog bites, go here.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pet Damage to Your Own Property?

Homeowners policies are explicit in that any damage caused by domestic animals you own will not be covered by your homeowners insurance company. Whether your dog tears through a large section of your drywall, or your cat rips up an expensive sofa in your house, your insurer will not pay for the associated repairs. Here are a few more examples where you wouldn't be covered:

  • Your dog knocks over your TV
  • Your dog chews through your shoe collection
  • Your bird claws through your couch
  • Your horse breaks a fence on your property

To be clear, any sort of damage directly caused by your pet to your home or personal property will not be covered. This also extends to all barn animals you own like pigs, horses, chickens etc. The best way to avoid situations like this is to train your pets early on so they respect the contents of the home. You can also take steps to 'pet-proof' certain valuable belongings in your house.

If Someone Else's Pet Causes Damage to Your Property

Just as your neighbor could sue you if your pet destroys their property, you can claim through them if their pet damages something of yours. After filing a claim against your neighbor's homeowners insurance, an adjuster will come to assess the situation. If there is not much ambiguity in the case, your neighbor's insurance will likely try to settle before advancing the case into a court.

Pet Damage to Another Person's Property

If your pet damages another person's property, that person could then file a claim against the liability portion of your homeowners policy to get compensation for repairs. So if your dog were to sneak into your neighbor's lawn and destroy their expensive landscaping, your neighbor could file a suit against your liability insurance. So long as you or your dog were not doing anything illegal, your insurance company would step in to defend you and settle the case.

Every homeowners policy comes with at least $100,000 in liability coverage for bodily and property damages--though we recommend most homeowners get higher limits. If the settlement ends up costing $50,000, then your insurer will pay that amount. An important thing to consider though is that your insurer will not take the case if the animal was being used for any business purposes. For example, if a pig on a farm that you earn money on created a liability issue, your homeowners company would not take the case--you would be expected to have a commercial insurance policy at that point.

Are Fish Tanks Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Internal water damage is one of the listed perils in most standard policies so you would actually be covered for the water damage caused by a broken fish tank. For example, if the water were to ruin carpeting, wood flooring or the walls, you're protected. The same protections would also extend to any personal belongings ruined in the leak. Whether the tank itself is be covered however depends on what caused it to break in the first place, and the type of policy you have.

No matter the policy, if your negligence caused the tank to break, i.e. you didn't have proper maintenance, you overfilled the tank, etc., your insurer would not cover the replacement costs. Home insurance companies will not cover damage that was the fault of the policyholder.

Under a standard policy, a tank is covered if it was destroyed by one of the "16 common perils" listed in a homeowners policy. Should the tank break in a fire, the replacement cost of the tank should be covered. Under a more advanced homeowners policy, personal belongings are protected against any type of damage--unless they are explicitly excluded in your policy. With this policy, if your kids were to knock over the fish tank, the tank would be covered because "kids knocking over the tank" is not explicitly excluded from your policy. Common events that are excluded are earthquakes, floods, and of course negligence. So if an earthquake shook your home and the tank broke, you would need an earthquake insurance policy to pay for the costs of replacing or repairing the tank.

Chris Moon

Chris is a Product Manager for ValuePenguin with years of experience in addressing critical questions about mortgages and homeowners insurance. He spends his time evaluating insurance providers and policy features to understand where consumers might find the most cost-effective coverage. Chris has contributed insights to the New York Times and many other publications.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.