Everyone wants unconditional love from a pet. There’s nothing like it! But renting may stop you from pet ownership because of the liability involved. If you’re renting out a home, renters insurance gives you liability coverage and protection. But did you know that it’s easy to get pet liability insurance as a renter? If your pet ever hurts someone or damages property, you may be covered. But there are times where a pet is excluded from liability coverage. A particular dog breed or animal type can stop you from having pet liability coverage. Thankfully, there are options available for every pet owner

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Does a Renters Insurance Liability Policy Cover Pet Owners?

If you’re already renting a home, you may want to consider a renters insurance policy. This type of insurance typically covers pets under liability protection. So, if you have permission from your landlord, pet ownership may be possible for you. Renters insurance is an easy way to protect the risks associated with renting a home. 

Personal liability in your renters insurance policy covers any legal bills from an injury to non-residents while in your home. One of the main reasons why tenants purchase renters insurance is to have coverage for such instances. That’s why, even if you don’t own a pet, it’s wise to buy a renters insurance policy. You can get started now by comparing the best insurers to fit your needs. That way, you’ll have protection from the unknown. Isn’t that what everyone should have?

How Pet Liability for Renters Insurance Works

Renters insurance provides three essential types of financial coverage. They include:

Personal Property Coverage

Personal property includes the things inside your rental home, including personal belongings. What would you do if a fire ruined your apartment tomorrow? Would you be able to replace everything with cash? Your landlord likely has insurance to cover the building and any damages due to covered events. But you should have this type of coverage so you don’t have to carry the burden of replacing your personal property out of pocket.

Additional Living Expenses

Let’s say the hypothetical fire makes your apartment unlivable, and you have to live out of a hotel for a while. Under loss of use in your policy, additional living expenses cover any costs you have while living elsewhere. Your insurance company will reimburse you for these costs. 

Liability Coverage

You or your family members could happen upon a sticky situation. Liability coverage is necessary if you’re held responsible for injuring another person or damaging someone else’s or your landlord’s property. This coverage applies whether the incident occurred in your rental or elsewhere. Your liability coverage will cover the costs of such instances. And an average policy will include up to $100,000 in liability coverage. Talk to your insurance agent if you think you need more liability coverage

Possible Liability Insurance Scenarios with Pets

Pets can cause significant injuries or property damage. What’s worse is when these cases happen to others. Liability coverage is essential for these cases. This type of coverage provides financial protection for costs associated with the accident up to a policy’s limits. As a pet owner, you may face scenarios such as these:

Property Damage Liability

Let’s say you’re a dog owner. Your dog decides to chase a squirrel and barrels through your neighbor’s fence, breaking it. Your pet causes enough property damage that your neighbor doesn’t want to have to pay for it. You give your neighbor your renters insurance information. Then, they file a claim through your insurance company. In this scenario, your insurance company will help cover the costs of repairing or replacing the fence if you’re found liable.

Medical Payments and Injury Liability

Let’s say you own a cat, and they bite a visitor in your rental home. Your pet causes damage bad enough that your visitor requires medical attention. The damage prompts a visit to the emergency room. Luckily, you have renters insurance to cover your visitor. The visitor can file a claim through your insurance company. If you are found liable, your insurer will settle with your guest for medical payments and damages. If your guest doesn’t accept the settlement, they may take you to court. Your insurance company will pay the fees associated with the suit through your liability insurance policy

Pet Liability Insurance Coverage Limits for Renters

You never know when or how much you’ll need to use your liability coverage. That’s why it’s up to you to choose the correct liability coverage limit on your renters insurance policy. A standard renters insurance liability policy will have coverage limits up to $100,000. The policy limits will cover legal fees and damage costs. Be aware that you will have to pay anything beyond the liability coverage limit

Most renters pick their liability coverage limits depending on the risk of something terrible happening. That means you should weigh your potential risk and the severity of possible damages. Perhaps you own a pet with low risks like a goldfish. A low-risk pet won’t warrant coverage over $100,000, that’s for sure. But if you own a dog, you run the risk if your dog bites someone else or chews through expensive personal property. In the worst-case scenario, $100,000 wouldn’t be enough. As a rule of thumb, most liability coverage limits run between $100,000 and $300,000 on renters insurance

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2019, the average cost insurance companies paid out in dog bite claims in the United States was $44,760. And the average cost per claim has risen nationally by 134 percent from 2003 to 2019. The prices have increased because medical expenses and settlement costs have gone up significantly in that timeframe.

When Liability Insurance Doesn’t Cover Your Pet

Remember, not every pet damage case is protected by liability insurance for renters. The same rings true for the type of pet. Insurers don’t want to cover a pet if they’re a big liability issue. Your insurer will not cover damage to personal belongings if you have a risky pet that eats your leather backpack. But if the same pet damages a visitor’s property, your insurer may cover you under your liability policy

It’s hard to know, sometimes, if your pet poses a significant risk to insurers. Here are some examples of exclusions on pet liability for renters:

Certain dog breeds

Most insurance companies list aggressive dog breeds that they refuse to cover. Of course, always speak to your local agent if you are afraid your policy might exclude your dog’s breed. Here are some examples of dog breeds that may be excluded:

  • Akitas
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Great Danes
  • American Staffordshire Terriers (sometimes also referred to as “Pitbulls”) 
  • Presa Canarios
  • Rottweilers
  • Siberian huskies
  • Wolf hybrids

A dog with a history of bites

If a dog has a history of bites, an insurer could exclude that dog. They don’t want to pay for excessive liability claims

Exotic Pets

Exotic pets are almost always excluded from a typical renters insurance liability policy. They typically exclude reptiles, wolves, and monkeys, for example. 

Additional Pet Liability Insurance Options for Renters

In some cases, the insurer will exclude your pet from liability insurance. In that case, an umbrella policy may be right for you. An umbrella policy will cover the liability from damage or injuries not covered under your renters policy. Typically, if you purchase a $1 million policy, you can expect to pay between $200 and $300 per year.

Always check for sub-limits to pet liability insurance coverage on individual animals. For instance, if your dog is known for biting, your insurer might set liability limits at $5,000 on dog bite claims. Let’s say you have a high-risk breed. Your dog bites someone and causes $9,000 in medical expenses. Your insurer would pay the first $5,000. Then, you’d have to pay the remaining $4,000.

An umbrella policy will add to your renters insurance policy’s current coverage. Let’s say your renters insurance limits or excludes your Doberman pinscher from coverage. By purchasing an umbrella policy, you get coverage or increased coverage for the specific breed. Umbrella insurance starts after your renters insurance policy’s liability limits are met. Let’s say your insurance policy only covers Doberman pinscher liabilities up to $5,000. After the $5,000 is used up, the umbrella policy will take effect and help pay the rest. 

Additionally, you can purchase additional coverage known as a rider. You get increased protection on certain claim types with a rider on your policy. Talk to your local agent about additional coverage for things like dog bites and property damage

Are you looking for the right policy to fit your and your pet’s needs? That means you need to shop for the right homeowner’s policy. Check out Insurify for a home insurance or renters insurance quote. It’s fast, free, and easy. 

Frequently Asked Questions - Pet Liability for Renters

Does renters insurance cover pet liability?

Yes, most renters insurance covers pet liability on most domestic pets. If you're a pet-owner and a renter, it’s a very good idea to secure a renters policy.  Do be aware that some states might exclude pets from liability coverage. Some companies also refuse coverage on exotic pets and certain dog breeds. 

How much is renters insurance with a dog?

Most liability coverage on renters insurance covers $100,000 to $300,000. Normally, renters pay anywhere from $10 to $20 per month, depending on coverage levels. Talk to your local agent to make sure you’re getting the right amount of coverage and if your dog’s breed is covered. 

Does State Farm renters insurance cover dogs?

State Farm renters insurance covers dogs of most breeds. It’s always wise to get renters insurance since landlord insurance doesn’t cover dog bites. 

Conclusion: Getting the Most Out of Pet Liability for Renters

Do you own a pet and also rent your home? Pet liability insurance is the wisest way to pay for liability protection. There may be a case where your pet injures someone or causes property damage. No one wants to be stuck paying thousands of dollars for a cat scratch or a dog bite. If you think you need more coverage, always talk to your insurer. They’ll work with you to make sure your pet is fully covered. To get started, all you need to do is compare home insurance companies.

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Updated November 23, 2020

Stephanie Shaykin is a seasoned writer and marketing professional with experience in real estate. With a true passion for brand storytelling and SEO, she breaks down the most complex copy into a pleasant experience for the reader. In her spare time, she enjoys creating art and cooking in her home base of Chicago, Illinois.