Are pets covered under homeowners insurance?

Home insurance doesn’t cover injuries to your pet. For that, look into pet insurance.

However, if your pet causes damage to someone or their property, the liability and medical payments portion of your homeowners policy will kick in for coverage, depending on the state and type of pet.

The critical distinction here is that there is no specific pet insurance coverage in a homeowners insurance policy. The coverage available will be determined by your home insurance liability coverage limits, usually between $100,000 and $300,000, and your medical payment coverage limits, generally between $1,000 and $5,000.

If you have an umbrella policy, your liability coverage limits will be much higher as umbrella policies are typically sold at amounts between $1 million and $10 million.

Expert tip: Even if you have an umbrella policy, be sure to check with your insurance company and review your policy for limits on injuries caused by animals. Some home insurance policies impose lower limits of coverage for damage or injuries caused by pets. So, even if you have a $300,000 liability limit, you may only have a $25,000 limit for pet-related damages.

Which dogs are not covered by home insurance?

Unfortunately, some home insurance companies have exclusions for specific dog breeds. Additionally, if your dog has a bite history, your insurance company may deny you coverage. Rules vary by insurance company. 

Only a few companies have breed exclusions and not all of them exclude the same breeds. The following companies have no restrictions on dog breeds:

  • State Farm 
  • Auto-Owners Insurance
  • Chubb
  • USAA 

For other homeowners insurance companies, below are some of the commonly excluded breeds: 

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Cane Corso (a popular type of mastiff, but all mastiffs are on this list)
  • Chow Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Great Dane 
  • Mastiff
  • Pit Bull
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Siberian Husky
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Wolf hybrid

Does home insurance cover dog bites? 

The most common pet-related home insurance claim is for dog bite injuries. In 2021, 17,597 dog bite insurance claims were filed, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Dennis E. Sawan, an insurance and personal injury lawyer at Sawan & Sawan, says that his firm often deals with dog-related insurance matters.

“The most common injury we see involving pets are dog bites. These types of injuries disproportionately affect children, and they can be rather severe. The type of coverage that will apply to a dog bite depends on the specific language of the insurance policy,” Sawan says.

If your pet injures someone or their property and a lawsuit results, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars. If the damage is within your homeowners liability coverage limits, you will most likely be covered. However, you can expect a premium increase at the next renewal. There is also a chance that your home insurance company will decide the dog is too high a risk and will exclude the dog from future coverage entirely.

“Insurance coverage will usually turn on an analysis of liability under these different state laws, so it’s important to understand the nuances of pet liability laws in your state,” Sawan says.

Check with your insurer to determine precisely what pet-related injuries or damages are covered under your homeowners policy.

Are exotic pets covered under a homeowners insurance policy?

Currently, 20 states have a comprehensive ban on exotic pets, which tends to be any animal that is considered dangerous and normally in a zoo. Thirteen states have partial bans on exotic pets, and 14 allow it with a permit or license. If the pet is banned in your state, odds are good insurance won’t cover it.

But what about more common exotic pets like ferrets or pythons?

Some exotic pets may be covered under your home insurance policy. Be sure to ask your agent for specifics on what exotic pets are covered. You may discover that you need to increase your liability insurance coverage to be fully covered.

And if the pet isn’t covered? You may want to buy “exotic pet insurance” or animal liability insurance, which would be separate from your homeowners insurance policy. 

Does renters insurance cover pets? 

There is a good chance your renters insurance offers liability coverage for your pet, but you’ll want to check the policy before buying it.

If it’s not covered, you may be able to buy additional coverage or get an animal liability policy.

Home insurance FAQs

Do I have to add my dog to my homeowners insurance?

Yes. It is essential to be honest with your insurer that you have a dog or other pet and their breed. If this breed is restricted by that insurer, you need to know that so that you can consider other options for coverage.

If you tell your insurance agency you do not have a dog and then there is a pet-related claim, the insurance company could deny coverage.

Are there things I can do to help prevent my dog from biting?

While the USPS' dog bite report says it trains its postal workers to avoid dog bites, as a homeowner you can help by keeping the dog inside or behind a fence during deliveries.

Here are some other tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent dog bites and scratches.

  • Always ask if you wish to pet someone's dog. And make sure the dog sniffed and saw you before you reach out to pet it.
  • Do not let young children play with dogs or family pets without supervision
  • Socialize your dog with a leash in public. 
  • Do not disturb a dog while it is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.
  • Do not continue petting a dog if it seems scared, sick or angry.
  • Do not encourage your dog to play aggressively or roughhouse.
  • Do not panic or make loud noises; never run from a dog or break up dog fights.

Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites off property?

Homeowners insurance usually covers dog bites that occur off your property. The liability portion of your policy typically covers injuries your dog causes to others, whether the incident happens at your home or elsewhere. However, coverage can vary, so it's important to check your specific policy.