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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

home insurance form

It’s a common practice in the USA to have homeowners insurance, which protects your home and belongings in case of mishaps. Most homeowner insurance policies include coverage for damage to your property and your liability; that means that it covers property damage and possible injuries to others caused by either you or your family members.

But does the homeowners’ insurance cover dog bites?

In most cases, homeowners insurance covers dog bites through liability coverage, although that’s not always the case. Keep reading to find out more about homeowners insurance and its coverage for dog bites.

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What Is Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance is a type of insurance that covers the costs for repairing and rebuilding your home in cases of sudden events like:

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism
  • Damage caused by weather

Many homeowner insurance policies also include furniture and your personal possessions. Also, homeowners insurance companies cover legal fees and other expenses if someone who’s not living in your home gets an injury on your property.

Additionally, it covers property damage and injuries to others caused by either you or your family and typically includes your pet and their liability.

There are several different coverages that belong to homeowners insurance.

Type of Coverage What It Does Usual Amount
Personal Liability This coverage covers costs if you injure someone or if you unintentionally cause property damage Between $100,000 and $500,000
Personal Property This coverage pays you to replace damaged or stolen belongings Between 50% and 70% of the dwelling coverage
Loss of Use This coverage helps with paying living expenses while your home goes under reparations Around 20% of the dwelling coverage
Other Structures This coverage covers any stand-alone structures such as a shed or fence on your property Around 10% of the dwelling coverage
Medical Payments This coverage is included under the personal liability coverage, and it covers medical payments for someone injured at your property

It also pays if you, your pet, or a family member injure someone outside your home

Between $1,000 and $5,000
Dwelling This coverage covers costs when there’s damage to your home and attached structures Enough to rebuild the home and repair the damage

While no law specifications require you to have homeowners insurance if your home is under a mortgage, it’s likely your lender will require you to have homeowners insurance.

Homeowners Insurance Policy
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Most homeowner insurance companies include dog bites in their liability coverage, but there are still companies that might not cover them. That’s why discussing animal liability with your agent is essential to get the needed details.

When dog bites are a part of your liability coverage, you will be protected from lawsuits, and damage from household mishaps will have coverage. If you are liable in court for bites caused by your dog, your insurance company will cover the victim’s medical bills and legal expenses.

This also extends outside your home; if you take your dog to a dog park and it accidentally hurts another dog, the coverage still applies.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Exclude Dog Bites?

There are situations when homeowners insurance excludes dog bites, and when that happens, you’re in charge of paying the bills. Here is a list of situations when you won’t have coverage if your dog bites someone:

  • If you encourage your dog to bite someone
  • If your dog bites your family members or you
  • If your dog bites someone in a business setting

Some companies might not cover animal liability unless you specially add it to your homeowners’ policy. Remember to discuss all the details about animal liability if you have a pet.

Within most insurance companies, specific breeds are excluded from homeowners insurance because they’re considered possibly dangerous.

Some of those breeds are:
  • Pit Bull
  • Siberian Husky
  • Rottweiler
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • Mastiff
  • Presa Canario
  • Great Dane
  • Akita
  • Doberman Pinscher

The excluded breeds will depend on the insurance company, while some may not have any exclusions. Some companies might even evaluate your pet to see if they can provide animal liability coverage or not. They will commonly check your dog’s biting history as well.

Dogs with a pattern of biting or showcasing aggressive behavior probably won’t get approval from insurance companies to be included in homeowners insurance.

Most insurance companies also have exclusions for the members of your household. If your dog bites someone in your family, the homeowner’s insurance won’t cover the costs. Instead, you need to turn to your health coverage.

dog biting man's hand
Image Credit: dimid_86, Shutterstock

Which Dog Breeds Increase Homeowners Insurance?

Some insurance companies will provide coverage for most dog breeds that are commonly excluded from homeowners insurance. However, if that happens, they will genuinely increase the premium of your homeowners’ insurance due to the possibly risky breed.

If you have a Doberman or Rotweiller, your premium will rise, while it remains lower with smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pugs, and Frenchies.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

There can be various reasons why dogs bite, although it’s typically a reaction to something happening around them. If your dog gets into a stressful situation, it might try to bite as a defense mechanism. Dogs will also bite if they’re startled, scared, or when they feel threatened.

It’s also not uncommon for a dog to bite if someone tries to hurt you or someone the dog loves. That also includes favorite toys or food. They can also bite if they’re feeling unwell, while biting can also be unintentional as a form of play.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Bites Someone?

If your dog bites someone, the situation could become stressful, as you have to restrain your dog while helping the injured person. However, you should try to remain calm and react with a cool head to handle the situation accordingly, ensuring there’s no further damage.

Here are some quick tips for handling a dog bite:
  • Get your dog away from the victim, especially if it’s showing more aggressive behavior.
  • Help the victim and try to assess the injuries. Determine if there’s a need to take the victim to the emergency room or call 911. Be as polite as possible, offer to take the injured person to the doctor’s, and remain calm.
  • If the situation allows it, exchange contact and insurance information with the victim. Act responsibly and be willing to communicate through the issue.
  • Call your insurance company and explain the situation. Some states require you to remain at the location where the incident happened.
  • You might also need to call your local animal control facility.
aggressive dog barking
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

How To Prevent Dog Bites?

Dog bites represent a genuine risk to society as they’re pretty common and can occur out of the blue. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent or lower the chances of dog bites:

  • Be a responsible dog parent: Being a responsible dog parent starts even before you get the dog. First of all, you should choose an appropriate breed that will fit into your family. You should provide the dog with the needed love and space, as well as with enough food, water, and regular exercise.
  • Socialize your dog: Allowing your dog to be social will help your dog develop connections with people and other animals. Because of that, it will learn how to react in situations which otherwise might make your canine anxious. However, don’t forget to put a leash on your dog in public.
  • Stay away from risky situations: Remember to escalate all risky situations and leave whenever you notice your dog is acting strange or aggressive.
  • Pay attention to your dog’s body language: You can try to read your dog’s body language as it can show you how your beloved friend is feeling. While you can’t know the exact emotions your dog is going through, you’ll be able to sense stress and fear if they occur.

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Final Thoughts

Homeowners’ insurance can cover dog bites through personal liability coverage, although it’s not the practice in all insurance companies. That’s why it’s best to consult your agent and ask about the insurance details that include your pet.

However, even if your insurance does cover dog bites, try to prevent them from occurring in the first place by socializing your dog and providing it with the needed care and love.


Featured Image Credit: Vitalii Vodolazskyi, Shutterstock

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