Am I covered by my home insurance policy if my dog bites someone while I’m walking him?
UPDATED: Jan 21, 2013
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Asked January 21, 2013
One of the major portions of your homeowners insurance policy is the coverage for liability claims. Liability covers you for damages or injuries that you, your immediate family, or your property causes to another person or their property. Liability not only pays for the damages and injuries, it also protects you against losses related to lawsuits arising out of those claims.
Since your dog could be considered either property, or-- as is more likely with a dedicated pet owner-- part of the family, it is generally covered under your home insurance policy, at home and away from it. If your dog bites someone, attacks the neighbor's cat, or damages someone else's property, the costs associated with those actions would be covered under a standard homeowners policy.
If your dog is one of the breeds classified as dangerous, it may be excluded from coverage. These breeds include Doberman pincers. bull dogs, and Rottweilers, among others. Typically, any dog breed that is known to have a tendency for attacking someone will be listed, to reduce the risks of insuring the homeowner. Check the exclusions portion of your insurance policy or contact your insurance company's customer service department to find out whether your dog is excluded from coverage. Read more about homeowners insurance for dog owners.
Your premiums are likely to be higher than those paid by someone who does not own pets. This is because pets are risky to insure, not only against biting and attacks, but against damages as well. Since having a dog increasing the chances of broken fixtures and furnishings, and likewise increases the risk of fire and water damage due to other pet damage, insurance companies will regard having a dog as increasing the risk of insuring the home, and charge you accordingly.
Consider purchasing a separate pet insurance policy or even a rider on top of your homeowners insurance. Doing so would relieve your home insurance provider from obligations related to your dog, lowering your perceived risk and your insurance premiums. Since your homeowners policy is going to be important to you for many years, reducing the chances of filing a claim against it could save you a lot of money over the course of the policy.
Answered January 21, 2013 by Anonymous