Are my pets covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy?
As a new homeowner, I’m curious about what all is covered under my insurance. I’m concerned about having coverage for my pets, including if they injure guests, damage my property, or get hurt themselves. I know that certain incidents could be extremely costly, especially if they involve a lawsuit. Do standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for my pets?
Probably not in the way many people would like it to, no. What homeowners insurance does provide coverage for are liability issues relating to pets. This tends to be the extent of the coverage, though. Your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover your vet bills if your pet gets injured or sick on your property, and it won’t cover physical damage they cause to your home or other property. But if you get sued because your pet injures another person, you’ll be covered.
When and how does homeowners insurance cover pets?
You’re only covered for liability-related claims under your homeowners insurance when it comes to your pets. There are two main areas where pets may cause liability issues that result in lawsuits against you. We’ll break down each for a better understanding.
Standard homeowners policies provide liability coverage for pets in the following ways:
- Bodily injury liability: If your cat, dog, or other pet injures a guest on your property, or your bring your pet with you to someone else’s house and your pet injures a guest or tenant there, your homeowners policy provides coverage for the damages. Your insurance will reimburse you for fees relating to medical payments if the injury is bad enough to require a hospital visit, and also legal fees if you are sued. Legal fees will cover your attorney, court fees, and any settlements you’re ordered to pay if the case rules against you.
- Property damage liability: If your dog or horse escapes and ends up trampling or destroying someone else’s property, your homeowners policy will cover you. Your insurance will cover the fees to repair the property damage itself, in addition to any legal fees from a potential lawsuit.
Homeowners insurance does not cover pets in the following ways:
- Veterinarian visits: Any routine or emergency vet visits are not covered under homeowners insurance policies. You as the pet owner are responsible for covering their vet bills.
- Property damage: Whether your dog chews up your brand-new iPhone or your cat knocks an antique lamp off the mantle, your homeowners insurance will not cover you. According to insurance companies, you are responsible for monitoring your pet’s behavior and keeping them from damaging your house and/or other personal property.
Though pets are technically considered to be personal property, it’s nearly impossible for an insurance company to accurately assign them a monetary value. That’s why coverage for pets is so limited under homeowners insurance. However, liability claims are typically the most expensive issues that can arise from pets anyway, so it’s good to know that homeowners insurance does provide you with pet-related liability protection.
How much do I have to pay if homeowners insurance does cover my pets?
Since liability is the only area in which homeowners insurance provides coverage for pets, we’ll discuss that category. After paying your policy’s deductible, you’ll be covered up to your homeowners insurance limit for liability. Standard homeowners policies have liability coverage limits of $100,000, $300,000, or even $500,000. If you’re concerned you don’t have enough coverage, you can always purchase more to increase your limit.
You may opt to purchase an umbrella policy to further increase your liability coverage. Umbrella coverage allows you to purchase excess liability insurance up into the millions, and it’s not too expensive to get it. Premiums are often just a couple hundred bucks for the year. This coverage may save you from having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket for an extremely high lawsuit settlement following an expensive injury or extensive damage.
It's also important to note that certain insurance companies have restrictions on coverage for certain dog breeds. If your dog is considered a high-risk breed (i.e., German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Mastiff, etc.,) your insurance company may not cover you for liability issues. If you're a dog owner, work with your independent insurance agent to review your specific policy with you to double-check if you're covered or not.
If homeowners insurance doesn’t cover my pets, what will?
Your homeowners insurance policy will cover your pets from a liability standpoint, including if they cause bodily injury or property damage to a third party. However, if you’re concerned about insuring them for things like health issues and expensive vet bills, there are various types of pet insurance policies available on the market from certain companies. An independent insurance agent can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.