One-third of renters live with dogs, which shows how many of us love our four-legged friends. It also means renters insurance to cover dog bites is important to consider when you’re a dog owner and renting. And while your sweet little pup may not have any known history of biting, you never know how your dog will react in stressful situations or with strangers. Having the right renters insurance for dog bites not only provides medical coverage for the person who was bit, but provides your finances additional protection from liability claims.
Dog bites occur more often than many realize. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 4.5 million dog bites occur per year. Kids ages five to nine have the highest rate of dog-bite related injuries. Since renters insurance does cover dog bites in most cases — with limitations — adding a fur baby to your family means renters insurance is a must for your household.
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Dog breeds not included in renters insurance coverage
Renters insurance carriers can limit coverage for dog bites based on the breeds. The most common breeds excluded from renters insurance policies are Pit bulls and Rottweilers. But each carrier can establish its own list of excluded breeds, so it’s important to confirm your dog’s breed is covered before assuming your renters insurance has you covered.
Here’s a list of the 10 most common dog breeds excluded from renters insurance coverage:
- Alaskan malamute
- Chow chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- Wolf hybrids
- German shepherd
- Siberian husky
If your dog breed is not included in coverage, this means your renters insurance policy won’t provide reimbursement for medical costs related to dog bite injuries or liability coverage to defend yourself in or out of court.
It’s important to note, if you have one of the dog breeds listed above, it shouldn’t discourage you from seeking a comprehensive renters insurance policy. You can find insurance companies that do not require you to disclose the breed of your dog. State Farm is an example of a renters insurance carrier that does not ask for the breed.
It’s better to switch to a carrier that does not ask about the breed than to be dishonest with your current carrier about your dog’s breed. If you’re found to misrepresent the information to your carrier, it could result in policy cancellation.
How to file an insurance claim for a dog bite
If you need to file a dog bite claim with your renters insurance, the steps are the same whether you live in a rental home, apartment or condo. As soon as the dog bite occurs, the policyholder needs to notify the renters insurance carrier.
If the person who was bitten did not need medical attention, then a claim may not be necessary. If the bite doesn’t result in any injury, then the insurance carrier may not have you file a claim at all.
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If medical attention is needed, either from the hospital, a doctor’s visit or reconstructive plastic surgery for instance, then a liability claim is triggered for your policy. There will also be intervention from the dog bite victim’s insurance carrier, and that company will work with your carrier to cover the liability. Your liability limits are usually in the $100,000 to $300,000 range unless you have additional liability coverage.
You should be aware that in 2019 the average cost per dog bite claim was $44,760 and the insurance industry paid out roughly $797 million in dog bite claims. These statistics are staggering reminders how costly dog bites can become.
Are other pets covered?
Certain breeds of dogs aren’t the only ones included or excluded in a renters insurance policy. Most renters insurance policies exclude exotic animals, farm and saddle animals. If you need coverage for these types of pets, you’ll need a supplemental policy. The carrier may include a generic exclusion of any reptile, fowl, or any animal with hooves within your renters insurance policy.
You should also note that renters insurance is different from pet insurance. When you have a renters insurance policy with pet liability, it protects you from being personally liable for damages or personal injury caused by your pet, such as the case with a dog bite. However, pet insurance is insurance for health-related expenses with your pet, including veterinary visits and procedures.
Other policy options covering dog accidents
In addition to renters insurance, there are other options for covering dog accidents where there are gaps in your renters policy. As a responsible dog owner, you want to make sure you have adequate coverage in case of an accident or bite involving your pet. Consider the following:
- Increase your liability coverage: If your current renters policy pays $100,000 towards liability and $1,000 for no-fault medical payments, consider increasing your policy to $300,000 in liability and $5,000 in no-fault medical payments. If you’re a dog owner, this ensures your limits are high enough to cover dog bites.
- Umbrella insurance: Personal umbrella insurance provides additional liability coverage where your renters policy leaves off. For instance, if your renters policy currently has a liability limit of $300,000, an umbrella policy provides coverage beyond this amount. You should confirm your umbrella policy provides coverage for dog bites and dog-related accidents.
- Canine liability policy: A canine liability policy is a separate pet policy you can purchase that covers any dog breed with any bite history. This is a supplement to your current renters policy or if you do not have an umbrella policy.
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