Do I have to add my dog to my homeowners insurance?


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UPDATED: 2021-03-10T23:01:53.251Z
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Approximately 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites each year. Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies cover dog bites and other incidents your furry friend may cause.

In order for your dog to be covered by your home insurance, you’ll need to add your dog to your policy. If you haven’t made your company aware of your furry friend, they may deny you coverage if you file a claim. Homeowners (and renters insurance) policies typically cover dog bite liability expenses up to a certain price, the limit is usually between $100,000 to $300,000.

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Is it really necessary to add my dog to my homeowners insurance?

Adding a dog to your home insurance may result in an increased premium. Most people ask, “Do I really have to add my dog? He or she doesn’t bite.” The answer is yes. Even the best-trained pets can be unpredictable, and you’ll want to make sure you're covered if there is ever an incident.

Most incidents are “first timer bites,” which means the dog didn’t have a previous history of biting. The problem with this is many fall into the camp of never believing their dog would ever bite someone, but if you wait until after the first bite to add them to your policy, it’s too late.

If you don't add your dog to your homeowners insurance, you could be left paying for the injured parties’ medical bills and potentially a lawsuit — all out of pocket. You should ensure your are protected by adding your dog to your homeowners insurance.

When homeowners insurance will cover your dog

After adding your dog and paying the additional fee to your homeowners insurance, here’s what is generally protected:

  • Personal liability: If someone files a lawsuit against you for a dog bite, you can file a claim under the personal liability part of your policy. It covers almost all expenses, including the price if they win the suit, up to the policy’s limit.
  • Medical bills: If your dog bites someone and injures them, this helps cover the price of medical expenses that were incurred. Typically the maximum price for medical bills is $10,000.

When homeowners insurance will not cover your dog

If your dog causes damage to the structure of your home, like chewing through the drywall or damaging your fence, your insurer most likely won’t reimburse you for the loss.

You also won’t be covered if your dog damages or destroys any of your personal belongings. If your furry friend chews a hole in your couch or destroys a brand new pair of shoes, your home insurance won’t cover it.

Does breed matter?

Yes, the breed of your dog does often matters to your homeowners insurance company. Statistically, certain dog breeds are responsible for a higher number of dog bites and some insurance companies go by the statistics to determine the risk to insure.

Some homeowners insurance companies have a blacklist of dog breeds that won't be covered by a homeowners insurance policy from the company. The most commonly discriminated dogs are within the Molossers breed group, which are, thick, muscular dogs that include pit bulls, rottweilers and mastiffs.

What to do if my homeowners insurance doesn’t cover my dog's breed

If you have a dog of a breed that's excluded from your homeowners insurance coverage because the company has blacklisted it, you’ll have to find a new homeowners insurance company that doesn’t restrict that breed.

Some insurance companies may offer coverage to your dog’s breed if it has gone through a certain level of pet training. Others may evaluate the dog to determine coverage. There are companies that don't discriminate by breed. A good place to start is this blog on a list of pit bull friendly home insurance companies.

How to prevent your dog from biting

Almost all dog owners are certain that their dog will not bite someone. While no one can prevent accidents or unintended injuries, there are many precautions that dog owners can take to prevent it from occurring. Here are a few tips to prevent your dog from harming someone else:

  • Educate: Take the time to inform yourself of your dog’s breed.
  • Training: Socialize your dog, and be aware of and understand your dog’s body language.
  • Daily exercise: It’s important your dog stays healthy, both physically and mentally. You should exercise them daily.
  • Distance: You never know what may provoke your dog; it’s safe to keep your dog on a leash to create a certain distance when around strangers or other dogs.
  • Neuter: Neutering your pet can lead to a less aggressive dog.

If you are moving with your pet, make sure to slowly introduce them to the new home. It's best to minimize the stressful situations your pet can face when moving.

When shopping for a homeowners insurance company, be sure to get quotes from multiple companies to compare your options. You can see the best and cheapest homeowners insurance companies in your zip code by visiting Clearsurance's homeowners insurance rankings page.

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