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Concept are of a young family sitting in the living room with their dog, illustrating pet coverage in homeowners insurance.

Pet Coverage: What You Need to Know

Did you know that over half of American households include a pet? Although dogs and cats are common members of the family, many homeowners do not know precisely how their homeowners’ insurance policy protects their four-legged friends. In this article, we are going to explore the complexities of pet coverage in your homeowners’ insurance policy. To get started, we will discuss some of the different ways that pets could be involved with your insurance claim.

Are pets covered by my homeowner’s insurance?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. In most cases, insurance providers will cover pets within your homeowners’ policy, but there can be complications. These complications usually arise with ‘high-risk’ animals. But what does that mean?

When determining deductibles and insurance premiums, your insurance provider performs a complex analysis to determine the risk of issuing your policy. Some insurance providers may charge higher premiums or deny coverage to pets they consider ‘high-risk.’ To identify high-risk animals, your provider might look at historical dog bite claims or other injury statistics. The list of high-risk breeds and species can vary between major insurance providers. The following animals might be classified as ‘high-risk’:

  • Alligators
  • Boa constrictors
  • Venomous snakes
  • Lions
  • Tigers
  • Bears
  • Wolves
  • Chimpanzees

Do I have to tell the insurance company about my pet?

We highly recommend informing your insurance provider about any pets living on the property. If you conceal the presence of a pet, it may put you in breach of contract. Failure to notify the insurance provider could result in denial of coverage in the future – even if your claim is unrelated to your pet.

Are service animals and emotional support animals covered by homeowner’s insurance?

If you have an ESA or service animal, you might be familiar with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Both offer protection against housing discrimination for certain animal owners. Under these laws, landlords cannot deny housing to potential tenants based on whether they have service or support animals. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not subject to similar restrictions.

Insurance companies face no penalties for refusing to insure a property. To see if your service or support animal is covered, you will need to directly consult your insurance provider. Typically, providers will grant coverage to any breed or animal that they deem low-risk.

Will my homeowner’s insurance cover damage that my pet causes to my property?

Most policies will not provide any compensation for the damage that your pet causes to your belongings. This is because the insurance company expects you to be responsible for your pet’s behavior. Although that may seem like a major issue, the truth is, most pet damage does not exceed the cost of your homeowners’ insurance deductible. In practicality, you probably would not make a low-value claim even if it was permitted under your policy.

Does my homeowner’s insurance cover damage that my pet causes to someone else’s property?

If your pet has damaged neighboring property, this may trigger liability coverage. Before issuing a payment, your insurance provider will investigate the claim to determine that you have been assigned liability. If they determine you are liable, the policy might cover any replacement or repair costs. If you are sued over the damage, your policy might also cover possible legal fees.

Does my homeowner’s insurance cover damage that my pet causes to someone else’s property?

Injuries from pets are relatively common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. annually, and ~20% of those bites become infected. Just like when your pet causes property damage, your insurance company will want to investigate the incident. If they determine you are liable, your policy should might cover associated medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering up to the coverage limits of your liability insurance. In the event that If you are sued over the injury, your policy should might also cover the legal fees.

If my pet is injured on my property, will homeowner’s insurance help cover veterinary bills?

Typically, homeowner’s insurance policies DO NOT include coverage for veterinary bills – even if your pet sustains the injuries on your property. The situation can get a bit more complicated if your pet is injured by the same event that damages your house. For example, if a fire destroys your kitchen and your pet sustains a minor burn, that would mean an otherwise covered event injured them. In these complex cases, we recommend speaking with an injury lawyer for personalized assistance. To protect yourself from steep, unexpected veterinary expenses, consider taking out a dedicated pet insurance policy.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this article has helped you understand how your homeowners insurance policy accommodates pets! Have you recently welcomed a new furry friend into your home? Do not waste a minute before contacting your insurance agent to review your policy. Remember, if you need to file an insurance claim in the future, our dedicated public adjusters are here to help you. Our main objective is to get you paid every dollar you are owed under your policy.

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