Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Anna Baluch
Written by
Anna Baluch
Photo of an Insurify author
Written by
Anna Baluch
Insurance Writer
Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.
Danny Smith
Edited by
Danny Smith
Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Danny Smith
Insurance Writer
Danny is an insurance writer at Insurify. Specializing in auto insurance, he works to help drivers navigate the complicated world of insurance to find the best possible policy. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You can connect with Danny on LinkedIn.

Updated December 21, 2022

Reading time: 4 minutes

Why you can trust Insurify

As an independent agent and insurance comparison website, Insurify makes money through commissions from insurance companies. However, our expert insurance writers and editors operate independently of our insurance partners. Learn more.

If you own a dog, you should know that you’re responsible for any harm it causes to others, such as from biting someone. Most home insurance policies cover any costs that come with a dog bite incident. Below, we’ll dive deeper into when and how your home insurance can help you if your dog bites someone.

When does home insurance cover dog bites?

Your home insurance may pay for dog bites and the expenses that come with them in a number of situations, including the following:

When your dog bites a guest

If you invite a guest to your house and your dog bites them, your homeowners insurance policy may cover the incident, depending on the liability coverage included in your policy. Your personal liability coverage can cover for injuries and potential lawsuits, while your medical payments coverage can cover any medical expenses for treatment of the bite.

When your dog bites someone away from your home

Home insurance typically covers dog bites that occur off your premises as well. This means if you’re on a neighborhood walk or at the park and your dog bites someone, you may still be covered. Note that some policies won’t cover incidents that happen off your property. Make sure you check your policy’s details.

When your dog damages someone else’s property

Homeowners insurance can also pay for property damage that your dog causes. If you take your dog to your neighbor’s house and it chews up their new furniture, liability coverage may cover the damage. Every policy differs slightly, so make sure you understand your policy thoroughly before bringing your dog out in public.[1]

When does home insurance not cover dog bites?

Home insurance doesn’t always cover dog bites. Make sure you understand your policy so you aren’t left uncovered in the event of an incident. Here are a few scenarios where homeowners insurance may not cover a dog bite.

Your home insurance company excludes your dog breed

Some dog breeds have a reputation for being aggressive, and your home insurance company may refuse to cover these breeds due to the perceived risk of a bite occurring. Breeds that are often excluded from coverage include pit bulls, rottweilers, Siberian huskies, and chow chows.[2] If you find that your home insurer won’t cover your dog breed, you may want to seek dog bite insurance elsewhere.

Your home insurance provider won’t cover injuries to household members

Your home insurance might not cover injuries to household members, only injuries to guests and family members who don’t belong to your household. If your dog bites your child who lives with you, you may be responsible for the medical bills and have to pay for them through your health insurance policy.

Your policy specifically excludes all dog bites

When you first purchased your home insurance, you might have agreed to exclude coverage for dog bites and other pet-related injuries. If you don’t remember, check the fine print of your home insurance. And if you’re purchasing a new policy, take the time to fully understand the extent of coverage you’ll receive should your dog bite someone.

Your dog bites someone in a business setting

If you run a dog-grooming business or another type of business out of your home, and your dog bites someone, your home insurance policy likely won’t cover it. You might have to turn to your business insurance instead.

How to file a dog bite claim

Dog bite claims are quite common. In fact, dog bite claims cost home insurance companies in the U.S. $882 million in 2021.[3] If you need to file a claim, either submit a claim online or call your insurer to begin the process. Be prepared to state personal information like your name, date of birth, and policy number.

You’ll also need to share the date and location of the dog bite, as well as any photo or video evidence that supports your claim. Once you submit your claim, an insurance claims adjuster may step in to evaluate the situation and determine whether to approve your request for coverage.

Ideally, your home insurance company will approve your claim. But if your insurer denies your claim, you can likely appeal the decision. You can file an appeal on your own or work with an attorney.

How to renew your policy after a dog bite claim

If your dog bites someone, your provider might make some changes to your policy to account for the increased risk. This might include charging higher premiums or even excluding your dog from coverage.

If your home insurance company decides not to renew your policy, you’ll have to shop around and find coverage elsewhere. Fortunately, you can find many providers that may extend coverage to you, though your rates may still be increased due to previous incidents.[4]

Dog bite FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about dog bites and homeowners insurance.

  • If a dog bites you, identify the dog and the owner and document your injuries. Then, wash the wound with mild soap and warm tap water. Use a clean cloth or gauze and apply pressure to stop any bleeding. Next, visit the doctor, even if you think you’re fine. Lastly, speak to the owner to find out whether their homeowner’s policy will cover your expenses.[5]

  • Yes, homeowners insurance may apply if your dog bites another dog that doesn’t live with you. Check the specifics of your policy to see if it will cover vet bills and other related costs if your dog injures someone else’s dog. Most policies cover these types of events, as long as you’re legally responsible for the incident.[6]

  • Some dog breeds are perceived to be more prone to biting than others. As a result, you may pay a higher premium if you own a dog like a pit bull, rottweiler, or Siberian husky. In some cases, home insurance companies will place these breeds on a restricted dog list and won’t cover their bites at all.[7]

Compare Home Insurance Quotes Instantly

  • Personalized quotes in 5 minutes or less
  • No signup required

Sources

  1. Progressive. "Does home insurance cover dog bites?." Accessed December 19, 2022
  2. American Family Insurance. "Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?." Accessed December 19, 2022
  3. Insurance Information Institute. "U.S. Home Insurers Paid Out Nearly $900M in Dog-Related Claims in 2021." Accessed December 19, 2022
  4. Insurance Information Institute. "Spotlight on: Dog bite liability." Accessed December 19, 2022
  5. MedlinePlus. "Animal bites - self-care." Accessed December 19, 2022
  6. Economical. "Does home insurance cover dog bites?." Accessed December 19, 2022
  7. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Home Insurance and Pets." Accessed December 19, 2022
Anna Baluch
Written by
Anna Baluch
Linkedin

Insurance Writer

Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

Learn More
Danny Smith
Edited by
Danny Smith
Linkedin

Insurance Writer

Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Danny Smith
Insurance Writer
Danny is an insurance writer at Insurify. Specializing in auto insurance, he works to help drivers navigate the complicated world of insurance to find the best possible policy. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You can connect with Danny on LinkedIn.