- Pet liability insurance helps pay expenses for harm or damage to third parties caused by your pet.
- In 2020, the average dog bite claim totaled $50,425.
- If you have renters insurance, check if it includes liability coverage for your pet.
- Pet liability insurance covers legal expenses if someone decides to sue you for harm caused by your pet.
If you rent your home and have a pet or are thinking of getting one, you’re not alone. Around 36% percent of Americans rent their home, and 90% of renters own a pet, according to a survey by the American Apartment Owners Association.
One type of policy you should think about getting besides renters insurance is pet liability insurance.
It’s designed to protect you if your pet damages your rental property or hurts someone on the property. Here’s what you need to know when you’re shopping for a policy.
Inside this article
Why get pet liability insurance?
Just imagine: Your dog or cat bites a visitor’s hand, which requires stitches. Pet liability insurance protects you and your family financially from expenses that could result from your pet’s behavior.
Another reason to strongly consider pet liability insurance is if you own a dog on the restricted breeds list (see below); having pet liability insurance makes it much easier to get accepted as a renter, because it gives the property owner peace of mind.
What does pet liability insurance cover?
There are many examples of situations where pet liability insurance would come into play. It protects you and your family from being financially responsible for damages done by your pet to someone else’s property or medical expenses resulting from injuries to someone outside of your household.
If you’re out for a walk with your dog and she bites another owner out walking their dog, the insurance will cover the victim’s medical bills. If your cat scratches a child in your yard or your home, you’re covered for any medical costs.
If your dog were to chew on the neighbor’s fence, destroy your pet sitter’s furniture or knock a neighborhood child off their bicycle with an exuberant greeting, pet liability insurance could cover any associated costs.
Even pets you might not think of as being able to cause damages, like fish, can, in fact, cause situations where you might need pet liability insurance. If your fish tank were to leak and the water seeps through the floor and into the apartment below yours, pet liability insurance could cover the damage caused to your downstairs neighbor.
If your pet were to cause damages like this, the person injured would file a claim through your insurance company. The insurance company would handle the details for you and reach a settlement with the person.
If the person isn’t happy with the insurance company’s settlement, they could go on to sue for legal damages. In that case, the insurance company would cover all costs and fees associated with the lawsuit, including any additional damages.
What’s not covered?
Pet liability insurance policies protect you from expenses your pet causes to others, but it doesn’t cover expenses your pet causes to you.
Costs that are not covered include damages to the property you live in or if your pet bites or otherwise injures someone in your household. The only damages that would be covered would be medical bills or property damages done to someone not living in your home.
Tip: For damages to your home, your renters insurance should cover such expenses.
Additional expenses that most pet liability policies do not cover are impoundment and quarantine fees. If your pet escapes and is impounded by local animal control, or bites someone and is quarantined by animal control, you will likely have to pay those fees.
Does renters insurance cover pets?
Most renters need to have renters insurance, either because their landlord requires it or for their own financial security. If you own a pet, look into your renters insurance policy, as well as your state laws, to figure out whether you need liability insurance specifically for your pets in addition to renters insurance.
In general, renters insurance coverage includes three areas:
Additional living expenses
If you have pets, the liability portion of renters insurance might apply to them.
Renters liability coverage protects your finances if your pet damages your rental property or someone else’s property, or injures someone who doesn’t live with you. The coverage typically doesn’t cover anyone who lives in the household, like you or your children.
Most renters insurance policies cover up to $100,000 in liability costs. This might sound like a lot, but property damages and medical expenses can quickly add up and easily exceed this limit. It’s always prudent to be realistic about necessary coverage. Depending on your situation and pets, it could be wise to purchase more coverage.
What if your renters insurance doesn’t cover pets?
If you already have renters insurance, the first thing to do is check both your state laws and your liability coverage. Unfortunately, a lot of renters insurance coverage has restrictions that apply to pets.
Most renters insurance plans exclude certain dog breeds. Other policies exclude exotic pets (anything other than a cat or dog). There may also be weight limits placed on the type of pets that can be covered, as well as exclusions for any individual pet that has a history of biting.
Tip: Some states don’t allow pets to be covered by renters insurance at all.
According to American Family Insurance, in the United States, the following breeds are often excluded from coverage by renters insurance:
If your renters insurance doesn’t cover your pet or you need more coverage, getting pet liability insurance is a good idea—just check if there are restrictions on the type of pet a policy covers. You can also look into a personal umbrella policy in addition to your regular renters insurance. An umbrella policy provides liability coverage over and above your standard auto, homeowners or renters insurance policies.
How much does pet liability insurance cost?
What you will pay for pet liability insurance varies depending on your situation and needs. Prices depend on:
Number of pets
Type of pets
History of aggression
Typically, a pet liability insurance policy costs between $100 to $1,000 a year. Some less expensive policies may cost as little as $10 per month, but they offer much lower coverage that may be inadequate. Compare your options to find the plan and level of coverage that are right for you.
Tip: In 2020, the average dog bite claim totaled $50,425, according to the Insurance Information Institute. This was a 162% increase from 2003. Make sure your pet liability policy protects your finances from this kind of expense.
Where to find pet liability insurance as a renter
There are many options for pet liability insurance. If you already have renters insurance, the first place to look is in your renters insurance policy.
If your renters insurance doesn’t offer adequate pet liability coverage, ask about an umbrella policy. If you need to purchase a separate pet liability policy, check out these options.
Federation of Insured Dog Owners: This organization offers coverage for all dogs, regardless of breed, across the U.S.
Einhorn Insurance Agency: The Einhorn Insurance Agency offers dog liability insurance to both restricted breeds and dogs with a bite history. It’s a great option to look into if you’re a renter with a breed categorized as “dangerous” or if your dog has previously bitten someone. This company offers its dog liability insurance policies in 25 states.
Lester Kalmanson Agency: The Lester Kalmanson Agency offers pet liability policies across the U.S.
Evolution Insurance Brokers: Also doing business as XINSURANCE.com, this insurance company provides pet liability coverage nationwide. It offers comprehensive plans and will even do a free review of your current renters insurance and other policies.
InsureMyK9: InsureMyK9 offers liability insurance for all breeds, including those with a history of biting. The policies are offered in varying coverage amounts, and rates are based on the breed, weight, bite history and other factors. InsureMyK9 provides free quotes online.
For more on pet insurance, check out our stories on whether pet insurance is worth it, what’s typically covered when you buy a policy and how to insure an exotic pet or a pet with pre-existing conditions.