Pet Liability Insurance for Renters

If you’re a renter and your basic insurance policy doesn’t cover damage or injury caused by pets, here’s how you can get coverage.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer
  • Co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast

  • MBA from Utah State University

Miranda is a financial writer and avid podcaster with nearly two decades of experience contributing to major outlets, including Forbes, The Hill, and NPR.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated September 22, 2023 at 12:00 PM PDT

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As a renter with a pet, you might be wondering what happens if your furry family member causes damage to your home or injures someone. Some renters insurance companies have policies that include pet liability coverage. In other cases, you might need to get separate pet liability insurance coverage.

Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your furry friend.

Renters insurance and pet liability: What’s covered?

Renters insurance is designed to help renters protect themselves in the event of property damage. It also provides liability coverage if people visiting the home suffer an injury.

In some cases, renters insurance can also provide coverage for damages that pets cause. However, it’s important to carefully read your policy because not all renters insurance policies cover damage and medical expenses from pets.

Good to Know

As a pet owner, you need to understand what your policy covers. You can check with your insurance agent to see whether you have coverage for damage to the rental or medical bills stemming from a pet-caused injury.

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What is pet liability coverage?

Pet liability insurance is designed to protect you if your dog, cat, or other pet causes injury to someone else or damages someone else’s property. It’s basically personal liability coverage to help you take responsibility for your pet’s actions.

Do you need pet liability insurance?

You can talk to your insurer to find out what your policy covers. If you identify gaps in your coverage, it might be a good idea to either add this coverage to your renters policy or get separate coverage.

Here are some of the incidents pet liability insurance might cover:

  • Dog bites

  • Cat scratches

  • Medical costs for an injured party

  • Damage to the rental property

  • Applicable legal expenses

In some cases, if you have a pet or become a pet owner after you move into a rental home or apartment, your landlord might require you to have additional coverage for your pet.

Pet insurance vs. pet liability insurance

It’s important to understand the difference between pet insurance and pet liability insurance. The coverages sound similar, but each provides different protections. Pet liability insurance is designed to protect you if your pet damages a landlord’s property or if it injures someone and that person requires medical attention.

On the other hand, pet insurance coverage is focused on your pet’s healthcare costs, not the damage it causes.

Types of pet liability insurance for renters

You can choose to get different types of pet liability insurance depending on what insurers offer and whether your renters insurance covers pet damage. Here you can see a collection of coverage options.

Standard pet liability insurance

In general, insurance companies can offer a standard pet liability policy that covers basic insurance claims up to the specified amount of liability coverage. This usually includes items like damage to the rental property itself and damage your pet might do to a neighbor’s property.

It also usually covers costs incurred due to injuries that your pet causes to others, including guests and neighbors. Your legal defense might also be included, up to your coverage amount, if another party sues you.

Breed-specific liability insurance

Some dog breeds, like pit bulls and German shepherds, are considered high-risk for pet coverage, and you might need to get a separate policy.[1] Dog bites affect 4.5 million people each year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.[2]

Insurers consider specific dog breeds to be more likely to bite and might have different rules and limits for them. Additionally, if you have exotic pets, you might need to get additional coverage to deal with the damage they might cause.

What doesn’t pet liability insurance cover?

Pet liability insurance isn’t health insurance for your pet, so it won’t cover accidents that injure your pet. Additionally, renters insurance liability coverage that includes pet damage doesn’t usually include what your pet does to your own property. Personal property coverage usually only applies to damage to other people’s property.

Important Information

Keep in mind that renters insurance covers dog bites and other injuries to guests but might not cover an instance where your pet injures you, your immediate family members, or your roommate.

This is true whether you have a separate pet liability insurance policy or the coverage is part of your renters policy. Certain breeds of dogs, cats, and exotic or wild animals might not receive coverage under a standard renters insurance policy or a separate pet liability policy.

How much does pet liability insurance cost?

In some cases, if you can get renters insurance to cover pet damage, the average cost will be low because you won’t need to pay extra for the coverage. Depending on where you live, the type of coverage, and other factors, the cost might be as low as $9 per month or as high as $73 per month.

Here are some of the things that can affect your cost of coverage for pet liability insurance for renters:

  • ​Where you live in the United States

  • Type of pet you have

  • Whether your renters insurance covers pets

  • Likely legal fees that can occur due to a breed

  • Whether you’re getting the coverage as part of an umbrella policy

  • Amount of coverage limits on your policy

How to lower your pet liability insurance cost

The good news is that, depending on your situation, you can reduce your costs. Here are some ways you can potentially reduce what you pay for pet liability:

  • Check your policy’s limits to see if you can get a lower limit.

  • Review your standard renters policy to see if basic pet liability is already included.

  • If you’re a would-be dog owner, consider which breed you want and whether that breed is considered high-risk.

  • Enroll your pet in an obedience course to reduce potential accidents.

How to find the best pet liability insurance

If you need to find the best pet liability insurance for renters, here are some things to consider.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/100x100/4d03c561b5/declaration-page.svg

    Understand the fine print

    Read your policy to see if your renters insurance covers property damage from pets. If it does, check the fine print to see if it excludes specific dog breeds from bite coverage or exclude certain exotic pets. Talk to your insurance agent to see why they might deny a claim if your pet causes damage or injury.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/fa11c1fe75/comparison-website.svg

    Compare quotes from different insurers

    Once you know what coverage you need, compare quotes from different insurers. Consider looking at three to five companies to find out what they cover, the policy limits, and the premiums. Be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples when checking policies.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/7955361cf0/customer-support-1.svg

    Add pet liability coverage to your renters insurance

    If your standard renters policy doesn’t include pet coverage, or if you become a pet owner later, reach out to your insurer to talk about adding pet liability coverage. The agent can usually add coverage to your renters policy once they understand your situation and what type of pet you have.

Pet liability insurance for renters FAQs

Here’s some additional information that can help you in your search for pet liability insurance.

  • Can you claim pet damage on renters insurance?

    It depends on whether your renters policy includes pet damage. In general, a standard policy might include damage your pet does to others’ property but not damage a pet does to your personal belongings.

  • Why are some pets excluded from renters insurance?

    The Insurance Information Institute points out that some dog breeds are considered high-risk for bites, and a policy might exclude these.[1] Additionally, some exotic pets and wild animals captured as pets might be excluded because they might be considered more likely to injure others or cause damage. In these cases, you might need to purchase additional coverage, and in some cases, coverage may not be available.

  • Does renters insurance cover damage from pet urine?

    No, you typically won’t receive coverage for pet urine damage.

  • How is pet liability insurance for renters different from a general renters insurance policy?

    While some general policies include pet damage in the paperwork, not all of them do. Pet liability insurance is aimed specifically at coverage or injury caused by an animal you own, separate from other injuries or damage that might occur at your rental unit.

  • How do you file a claim if your pet causes damage or injury while you’re renting a property?

    As with most insurance claims, you need to reach out to your insurer to find out the process. Contact them if your pet causes damage or injury. You can usually file a claim by phone or on the insurer’s website.

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Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Spotlight on: Dog bite liability." Accessed September 11, 2023
  2. American Veterinary Medical Association. "Dog bite prevention." Accessed September 11, 2023
Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer

Miranda Marquit, MBA, is a freelance financial writer covering various markets and topics since 2006. She has contributed to numerous media outlets, including Forbes, TIME, The Hill, NPR, HuffPost, Yahoo! Money, and more. Her work has been syndicated by MSN Money, Marketwatch, Credit.com, and other publications. She has written about insurance topics for Clearsurance, HealthCare.com, and various other websites. She is also an avid podcaster and co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast. Miranda has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Syracuse University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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