Homeowners insurance after a dog bite

Dog bites are covered by home insurance, and some home insurance companies will insure your dog after they bite someone. But if you’re denied coverage, you can look into umbrella insurance or pet liability coverage.

Stephanie Nieves author photo

Stephanie Nieves

Published November 10, 2020

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Unless your dog is already excluded for some reason, like their breed, homeowners insurance will usually cover the costs if they bite another pet or person

  • Your existing insurer may decide to exclude your dog from coverage after a dog bite claim or refuse to renew your policy altogether

  • You may have to shop around with multiple insurers to find one that will cover your dog if it has a history of bites

  • If you’re looking for ways to make sure dog bites are covered, you can purchase umbrella insurance or pet liability insurance which are seperate policies that will cover a dog bite and other injury- or damage-related claims

Most standard home insurance policies will cover the costs if your dog bites someone, although this can depend on the kind of dog you have and the circumstances surrounding the event. However 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. You can also purchase umbrella insurance which is a separate liability policy, or you might have the option through your insurer to add pet liability insurance to your policy, which covers the costs if your pet causes damage or injury.

Can I get homeowners insurance after a dog bite?

Yes, you can still get homeowners insurance after your dog bites someone — but that doesn’t mean your existing insurer will still 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. If your insurer will no longer include your dog in coverage or if your policy isn’t renewed, you should shop around for a policy that will include your pup.

When weighing coverage options that will include liability coverage for your pup, you should consider any endorsements you can add that will extend coverage for your dog, like pet liability coverage. You can also check with individual home insurance companies to see if they have exclusions specific to your dog’s breed or if they’ll insure dogs with a history of biting.

Dog breeds that are often excluded from coverage include German shepherds, rottweilers, staffordshire terriers, doberman pinschers, chow chows, Siberian huskies, and akitas because they’re responsible for a high number of dog bite claims. Some companies are willing to insure your dog after it’s completed a certain amount of training, though, while others may simply charge you more for owning a certain breed.

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, you may be charged a higher premium 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 might be more friendly to dogs with a history of bites. If you’re unable to find coverage, you may be able to apply for a FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan through your state, which is a last-resort insurance coverage option for high-risk homes.

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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 seperate policy that adds an extra layer of liability protection to your existing insurance coverage. Umbrella insurance covers more causes of damage than personal liability coverage, including dog bites, and it also covers dog breeds that are often excluded from coverage, like rottweilers.

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, which is a seperate 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 a rider through your insurance company, but if it isn’t offered, you can 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.

➞ Learn more about pet insurance

Does homeowners insurance cover dog bites?

Most standard home insurance policies will cover a dog bite claim. The personal liability provision of your policy covers your pup if it’s responsible for significant injury to another dog or person or if it causes damage to someone’s property. Your medical payments coverage covers associated medical fees for more minor injuries, like if your dog bites someone and they need medical attention, but there injuries aren’t severe and they don’t take any legal action.

In the event that your dog bites someone, whether it’s a guest in your home or a stranger on the street, they can file a claim with your insurance company to cover the cost of their medical expenses. You should still notify your insurer as soon after the incident as possible and let them know that your dog bit someone and they’ll be filing a claim.

The same goes for if you’re bitten by someone else’s dog; you can file a claim against them with their insurer, using their policy information. Ultimately, the dog is the owner’s responsibility, and the owner’s insurance will be used during the claims process whether they or someone else files the claim.

Filing a dog bite claim

If you’re bitten by someone else’s dog, you can file a third-party claim using their insurance. You’ll need the dog owner’s policy information including their insurance company, their full name, and their policy number. You might also be asked to provide information about the injury including the time and date it took place, photos of the damage, and any medical expenses you incurred after the incident. You should also notify your insurance company that you’ve filed a claim against another homeowner.

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a B.A. in writing and rhetoric and previously worked as an SEO & Editorial Associate. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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