Yes, renters insurance typically covers dog bites unless your dog is on the restricted breeds list or has bitten someone in the past. Renters insurance is a good idea for most dog owners because it covers dog bites and other damage your pet might cause others.
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Does renters insurance cover dog bites?
Yes, your renters insurance personal liability protection should pay for medical bills if your dog bites someone, with some exceptions.
This usually includes guests or strangers and doesn't include cases where your dog bites someone who lives in your home. And not every policy will cover dog bites off your property, such as when you're walking in your neighborhood or at the dog park.
However, most renters insurance policies have exclusions for dogs who are on the restricted breeds list or dogs who have a history of biting.
Does renters insurance cover dog bites for restricted dog breeds?
Several large dog breeds or mixes are excluded by most insurance companies, meaning they will not cover any injuries or damage your dog causes. Unfortunately, many insurance companies fear these dog breeds pose a higher liability risk, which could affect the frequency and severity of claims when it comes to renters insurance.
Common restricted dog breeds
- American Bulldog
- Alaskan Malamute
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Belgian Malinois
- Chow Chow
- Great Dane
- Presa Canario
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd
- Siberian Husky
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Can I get dog bite coverage if I have a restricted dog breed?
Yes, but it depends on your company and state.
A few states, including Nevada, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, restrict insurance companies from denying coverage because of a particular dog breed.
Some pet-friendly insurance companies, like State Farm, don't consider your dog's breed but will consider whether the dog has previously bitten or attacked anyone. If you have a dog with a bite history, you could be denied a policy altogether.
What should I do if my dog is a restricted breed?
Before you open a new policy or get a new dog, find out if your dog is covered by your renters insurance. Some companies won't even offer coverage to renters with certain dog breeds.
It's in your best interest to notify your renters insurance company if you have a dog on the excluded breed list, or if your dog bites or attacks someone. If your dog causes injuries or damages, your insurance company might deny any future claims or cancel your policy altogether.
Renters insurance is cheap, but a cancellation or nonrenewal on your record could be especially damaging. This could mean higher renters insurance rates in the future, or you might be denied coverage from other companies due to fraud.
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How to file an insurance claim for a dog bite
Treat a personal liability claim for a dog bite like any other renters insurance liability claim, whether it be for an apartment or a single-family home. Whether you need to file a claim depends on the severity of the injury and whether you're eligible for coverage.
- If the medical costs for the injured person are less than your deductible or your dog is excluded from liability coverage, you won't be able to file a claim.
- If the injured person bandaged a minor injury at home and did not have to go to the hospital, you will likely not have to file a claim.
- If the person bitten needs to go to the hospital to get stitches, a tetanus shot, reconstructive plastic surgery or other medical attention, you will probably need to make a liability claim.
The bite victim's insurance company might work directly with your insurance company, or they could choose to pursue a lawsuit. Either way, your renters insurance personal liability protection should cover the cost up to your policy limit.
Dog bite statistics
The U.S. is home to 77.8 million pet dogs, according to a recent survey by the American Pets Products Association, and they result in a surprising number of bites. Roughly 4.5 million people face dog bites each year in the U.S., and about 885,000 require medical attention — half of whom are children. Many of these bites result in liability insurance claims.
A recent collaborative study by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm found that one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims dollars paid out were related to dog bites, totaling more than $750 million. And while the number of dog bite claims decreased 7% year over year, the average cost per claim rose 16%, to $37,214.
Are other pets covered for bites?
Your dog or cat might be covered for biting or scratching someone, but any other types of pets typically won't be covered by renters insurance.
Usually exotic, farm or saddle animals are excluded from renters insurance liability coverage. That includes rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, reptiles, birds, horses, mini pigs and other exotic animals.