Does My Renters Insurance Cover My Pet?

Our furry friends provide us with love and affection, but they also leave unwanted surprises like chewed-up slippers, scratched-up furniture and urine-damaged flooring. If you’re welcoming a puppy or kitten into your home, you might be wondering if renters insurance will protect you against damages caused by your pet. Unfortunately, you’ll be responsible for damage to your property caused by your pet since neither renters insurance policies nor pet insurance policies typically cover pet damage. Renters insurance is still definitely worth having, especially if you have a pet since most renters policies include liability insurance.

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      Does renters insurance cover my pet?

      Renters insurance is designed to help cover the repair or replacement of belongings damaged or stolen from your apartment. However, it does not cover all types of damages. Pest infestations, natural disaster damage and property damage from your pet are not covered. Renters insurance also doesn’t cover any health issues that occur with your pet. You’ll need pet insurance if you want coverage for illness or accidents.

      Renters insurance does, however, provide liability coverage. If your pet causes an injury to another person while they’re on your property, you won’t be on the hook for their medical bills. Since pets can cause expensive accidents, it’s especially important to maintain a renters insurance policy if you have a pet. The average cost for a dog bite claim in 2019 was about $45,000.

      [ Read: How to Choose the Best Renters Insurance ]

      What does renters insurance cover?

      Most renters insurance companies provide the following coverage types:

      • Personal property damage: This helps cover the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings after theft or covered damages, such as fire and wind damage.
      • Personal liability coverage: If you damage someone else’s property or are blamed for their injuries on your property, liability coverage helps pay for your legal costs along with your guest’s medical payments.
      • Additional living expenses: If your home becomes uninhabitable, you may incur costs associated with securing alternative housing, such as hotel bills. Additional living expenses coverage, also known as loss of use coverage, can help pay for these items.

      Some of the best renters insurance companies also cover extras like credit card fraud, and there are often available add-ons like earthquake coverage, but you can’t purchase pet damage coverage through your renters insurance company.

      The cost of coverage will vary depending on your coverage limits and deductible amount. If you’re looking to get the lowest rate, first determine how much renters insurance you need, and then compare rates among the cheapest renters insurance companies.

      [ Next: What Does Renters Insurance Cover? ]

      What is covered under pet liability insurance?

      Pet liability for renters is always a concern for animal-lovers who don’t own their own home. Pet liability insurance, sometimes referred to as pet damage insurance, generally covers medical expenses and property damage costs for other parties that result from your pet. That means if your pet injures another party or damages their property, pet liability insurance will cover it up to the coverage limit stated in your policy.

      For example, if your dog bites someone or damages their fence, the costs would be covered under pet liability insurance. However, some animals and breeds are exempt from this type of insurance, so you should make sure the provider allows your pet before signing up.

      Pet liability insurance also usually covers legal fees associated with your pet injuring another party or damaging their property. So if someone sues you because your cat scratches them, your legal fees should be covered under your policy, up to the coverage limit.

      Pet liability insurance only covers your personal liability related to your pet. If your pet damages your personal property or causes you an injury, the insurance will not cover it, because neither of these instances create personal liability for you.

      It’s also important to note that pet liability coverage doesn’t generally cover medical expenses if your pet gets sick. But coverage for your pet’s medical bills is available with pet health insurance, which is a seperate form of insurance.

      [ See: Do You Need Pet Insurance? Here’s How to Decide ]

      Pet damage vs. pet liability

      Pet damage refers to property damage caused by an animal. This could be anything from scratches on your doors or floors to that pair of dress shoes. As noted above, pet liability coverage, on the other hand, protects you if you’re ever sued for damage your pet causes to another person or their property. So if your pet destroys your neighbor’s yard and they sue you, your legal costs may very well be covered under your renters insurance policy. And if your dog bites a visitor to your apartment, your renters insurance policy will likely cover their medical bills.

      Pet insurance vs. renters insurance

      Pet insurance covers wellness-related care for your pet and treatment for your pet’s accidents and injuries. Renters insurance covers medical or veterinary bills for injuries caused by your pet and repair or replacement of other people’s property damaged by your pet. Since there is no overlap in coverage between these two types of policies, you won’t waste any money by purchasing both. We wouldn’t encourage anyone to purchase extra insurance coverage they don’t need, but in this case, it’s in your best interest to have insurance that covers both your pet’s healthcare needs and liability coverage for you.

      What is the cost of adding pet liability to my renters insurance?

      Personal liability coverage is usually included in renters insurance. Although renters pet insurance isn’t generally offered, the liability coverage in your renters policy should extend to personal liability that arises from your pet. This includes both property damage and medical bills for third parties. Legal fees should also be covered under personal liability coverage. But the coverage limits in your policy will state exactly how much coverage you’ll receive from your policy. Renters insurance with pet liability is generally limited to your personal liability.

      You might also be able to find liability insurance specifically for your pet. This insurance is less common and monthly premiums can range quite a bit. Some providers may offer pet liability coverage for as low as $10 per month. But if you have a pet breed that’s known to cause liability, your premiums could be much higher.

      [ Read: Health Care for Buster: All About Pet Insurance ]

      For example, the liability associated with owning a large dog would be much higher than the liability associated with owning a hamster, so it’s reasonable to expect the cost of coverage would be more for the large dog.

      Does renters insurance policies exclude certain pets?

      Because insurance companies try to avoid unnecessary risk when covering a customer, most exclude dog breeds that are known to make up a higher share of dog bite claims than others. The best example is pit bulls, which are responsible for about 23% of dog bites. The following breeds are commonly excluded from liability coverage in renters insurance policies:

      • Akitas
      • Alaskan Malamutes
      • Chow Chows
      • Doberman Pinschers
      • German Shepherds
      • Staffordshire Terriers
      • Great Danes
      • Pit Bulls
      • Presa Cenarios
      • Rottweilers
      • Siberian Huskies
      • Wolf Hybrids
      • American Bulldogs
      • Beaucerons
      • Keeshonds
      • Mastiffs
      • Belgian Malinois
      • Rhodesian Ridgebacks

      Different renters insurance companies may have different exclusions, so always consult with an insurance agent about your dog before signing up for a policy.

      Are exotic animals covered in renters insurance?

      Like certain dog breeds, exotic animals represent a higher risk to the insurer and are therefore excluded from liability coverage in most policies. If you have one of the following pets, you might need to purchase a separate exotic pet insurance policy to cover expenses should your pet injure someone or damage their property:

      • Amphibians
      • Birds
      • Ferrets
      • Monkeys
      • Rabbits
      • Reptiles
      • Snakes
      • Turtles

      Most renters insurance policies also exclude farm animals from pet liability coverage. If you have a pet or breed of dog that isn’t covered under renters insurance, we strongly recommend purchasing either a specific policy for that pet or a personal umbrella policy.

      What options do I have if renters liability insurance doesn’t cover my pet?

      Some renters insurance providers may have company rules barring certain animals or breeds from coverage. If your renters insurance providers refuse to include your pet under your policy’s personal liability coverage, you have a few options to pursue:

      • Personal umbrella insurance — This is a form of insurance that increases your coverage for personal liability. You usually have the option to set the limits on the coverage very high. Before signing up, make sure the coverage will cover the liability of your pet.
      • Pet liability insurance — While this insurance is less common, you may be able to find liability insurance specifically for your pet. First, contact your existing insurer to see if they carry it or if they can recommend another provider who does.
      • Try another provider — If you think the liability coverage included in your renters insurance should cover your pet but doesn’t, you can always shop around for a new renters insurance provider. Make sure to ask about your pet before signing up with the new provider.

      We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

      Julian Dossett

      Contributing Writer

      Julian writes about what’s coming next, covering stories from artificial intelligence to cryptocurrency. He lives with his wife in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Whenever he has a day off, Julian can be found at Isotopes Stadium watching the ballgame.

      Reviewed by

      • Nashalie Addarich
        Nashalie Addarich
        Insurance Editor

        Nasha Addarich is an editor at The Simple Dollar and a former attorney who specializes in home insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, and savings. She is a former contributing editor to Reviews.com.