Homeowners insurance after a dog bite

Dog bites are covered by home insurance, and some home insurance companies will still insure your dog after they bite someone. But others may deny you coverage in the future.

Stephanie Nieves author photoKara McGinley

By

Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Editor & Home and Auto Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is a former editor and insurance expert at Policygenius, where she covered home and auto insurance. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Money, HerMoney, PayScale, and The Muse.

&Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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Most standard home insurance policies will cover the costs if your dog bites someone, although this can depend on the breed of dog you have and the circumstances surrounding the event. But staying insured after you’ve got a dog bite claim on your record is another story. Some insurance companies might exclude your dog from coverage after it bites someone, while others may refuse to renew your policy altogether after a dog-bite incident.

If your insurance company decides to exclude your dog from coverage after a dog bite, you should shop around for a new policy — some companies may be more tolerant of a history of bites than others. Policygenius can help you compare quotes from multiple insurers to find the right one for you and your pup. Our expert agents will even help you switch policies and handle all of the paperwork for you — for free!

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Key Takeaways

  • Unless your dog is already excluded from your policy — like for their breed — your homeowners insurance will usually cover the costs if they bite another pet or person.

  • To ensure you’re covered, you can buy umbrella insurance or pet liability insurance. These are separate policies that cover dog bites and any injuries or damage that happen as a result.

Can I get homeowners insurance after a dog bite?

Yes, you can still get homeowners insurance after your dog bites a person or another dog — but your existing insurer may not be willing to cover your dog after a dog-bite claim. When it’s time to renew your policy, your dog may be excluded from coverage or your insurer may choose not to renew your coverage at all. 

Renewing your policy after a dog bite claim

You can still get insurance even after your dog has bitten someone, but your insurance company may make changes to your policy to reflect the increased risk. When it’s time to renew your policy, your homeowners insurance rates may go up or your insurer may offer you the option to renew your policy but exclude your dog from coverage.

In the worst case scenario, your home insurance policy won’t be renewed at all, in which case you should use an insurance marketplace like Policygenius to compare coverage and rates with other insurance companies that are friendly to dogs with a history of biting. 

Other insurance options after a dog bite

Insurance companies look at your claims history, so if you’ve filed a dog bite claim, you may have a hard time finding new homeowners insurance that will still cover your pup. If your dog is excluded from your home insurance, you can look into the following options:

Umbrella insurance

If you have trouble insuring your dog after it bites someone, you can look into umbrella insurance, which is a separate policy that adds an extra layer of liability protection to your existing homeowners insurance coverage. Umbrella insurance covers more causes of damage than personal liability coverage, including dog bites. It also covers dog breeds that are often excluded from coverage, like Rottweilers.

→ Learn more about umbrella insurance

Pet liability insurance

Dogs with a history of biting can also be insured through pet liability insurance, also called animal liability insurance or dog owner liability insurance.This is a separate policy that covers even “dangerous” dog breeds in the event that they injure another dog or person. 

You may be able to purchase pet liability insurance as a standalone policy or an endorsement through your insurance company. But if it isn’t offered, you can also buy a policy from a specialized liability insurer. Not to be confused with pet insurance, which covers your pet’s health needs and veterinary expenses, pet liability insurance is separate coverage that covers pet damage that you’re liable for as the owner.

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When does homeowners insurance cover dog bites?

Most standard home insurance policies will cover you if your dog bites someone. Here’s how: 

  • The personal liability coverage section of your policy covers your pup if they’re responsible for significant injury to another dog or person or if it causes damage to someone’s property. Personal liability coverage can cover major medical costs and legal fees if you’re taken to court over the matter. Most insurers offer a minimum of $100,000 in personal liability coverage. But if you have a dog, it’s recommended that you increase your coverage limits to at least $300,000

  • The medical payments coverage in your policy pays associated medical fees for more minor injuries, like if your dog bites someone and they need medical attention, but their injuries aren’t severe enough to take legal action.

While the person your dog bit would file a claim with your insurance company, you should still notify your insurer to give them a heads up that your dog bit someone and they’re going to file a claim.

How to file a dog bite claim if someone else’s dog bites you

If you’re bitten by someone else’s dog, either they can file a claim with their insurer or you can file a third-party claim using their insurance. Typically the responsible party will file the claim, but if you need to here’s the information you should have on hand: 

  • The dog owner’s policy information, including their insurance company 

  • Their full name

  • Their policy number 

  • Information about the injury, including the time and date it took place 

  • Medical expenses you incurred after the incident