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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Pets?

By Jarrod Heil

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Does homeowners insurance cover damage caused by pets? That’s a tricky question with a trickier answer. Yes and no.

Damage to your home that was caused by your pet is not covered. However, damage to your home caused by another person’s pet may be covered by their insurance. Likewise, damage to another person’s home that was caused by your pet is covered under the liability portion of your homeowners insurance.

If your pet bites someone on or off your property, liability insurance will also kick in and pick up a portion of the bill as well.

Got all that? Don’t worry, we’ll dive deeper.
 
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When does homeowners insurance kick in and cover damage caused by your own pet?

Damage to Your Property

Say you have a dog, cat or any domestic animal such as a chicken, pig or horse — yes, these scenarios also extend to barn animals — and its name is Baxter.

What happens if Baxter chews a hole in the carpet or your clothes, stains the floor after they’ve been locked in the house for 12 hours, knocks over and breaks your TV due to excitement upon first glance of you after said 12 hours, runs through and destroys a fence on your property, or eats your diamond ring?

Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be covered for any of those scenarios. You’d be personally responsible for repairing or replacing those items, if you so choose.

Now let’s say that you have fish and they live in an underwater ecosystem that resides within a 50-gallon tank. That’s a lot of water. In fact, it’s 417 pounds of water encased in glass within your home. What happens if the tank breaks and floods your home?

Internal water damage is covered by many homeowners insurance policies and this coverage is oftentimes extended to fish tanks. But that tank must have been damaged or destroyed by a covered peril, though. Negligence, such as improper upkeep or overflowing the tank, is typically not covered under any policy.

If the tank is destroyed by a fire or windstorm, or a thief breaks in to steal it but drains the water on the floor because it’s too heavy to carry, damages and replacement costs should be covered.
 
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Damage to Someone Else’s Property

You’re liable for any damage caused by your pet. If Baxter is responsible for damage to someone else’s property or belongings, such as chewing through the carpet or eating a diamond ring, the property owner can file a claim through your insurance. With an average policy, you will have at least $100,000 in liability coverage that will help pay for damages.
 
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Bites

Insurance companies pay millions of dollars in dog bite claims each year. In fact, they’re the most common homeowners insurance liability claim. In 2017 alone, 18,522 dog bite claims accounted for $686.3 million in payouts, an average of $37,051 per claim.

It doesn’t matter if you’re on your property, your neighbor’s property, public or private property, you’re responsible for any damages resulting from your pet biting a person. Medical bills and court costs are paid by the liability portion of your coverage.

The minimum liability coverage is $100,000, so insurance will pay up to that amount for a single incident. If medical bills and legal expenses exceed that amount, you’re responsible to pay the remaining costs. If you have a dog, we recommend having at least $300,000 in liability coverage.
 
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When does homeowners insurance cover damage caused by someone else’s pet?

Damage to Your Property

Let’s say your neighbor’s dog, Riley, goes on a rampage and destroys your carpet, electrical wires and furniture. Well, your neighbors are liable for their dog and would be responsible for replacing or repairing your property and belongings. If they have homeowners insurance, it would kick in and pay for the damages.

You’d have to file a claim against their insurance, which would likely result in a settlement before going to court. Homeowners insurance policies typically have a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage that would be used to repair or replace your property and belongings.
 
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Bites

If you’re bitten by someone else’s pet, their liability insurance would pay all medical bills and legal expenses associated with the bite. If the pet owner doesn’t have coverage, or fails to meet the threshold amount, the owner is responsible for all the remaining expenses.

Get a Quote Compare multiple policies to get the coverage you need at the price you want.

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